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November 26, 2016

Jersey Shore awarded $63 million contract for dune building, coastal protection projects

Margate, Longport, Atlantic City and Ventnor will see coastal protection projects on its beaches in the coming months, and it's all thanks to a $63 million contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The money will go toward building engineered beaches and dunes in Absecon Island's Margate and Longport beach communities as well as toward scheduled construction in Atlantic City and Ventnor, The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said Friday. The contract was given to Cranford-based Weeks Marines Inc., according to a news release.

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Construction is set to begin before the end of the year and is expected to be completed by October 2017.

“This project is vital to the protection of homes, businesses, lives and infrastructure in these Atlantic County communities,” Commissioner Bob Martin said in a news release. 

The $63 million will help pay for a 200-foot-wide beach and a dune that will rise 15 feet above sea level in Atlantic City. A 100-foot wide beach and a dune that will stand 13 feet above sea level will also be built in Ventnor, Margate and Longport, according to the New Jersey DEP.

The Absecon Island project is funded by $1.2 billion in federal funding issued for repairing New Jersey's beach towns after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area in October 2012.

The hurricane damaged closed to 350,000 homes and left more than 20,000 uninhabitable. 

The initial construction in Margate and Longport will be completely funded by Hurricane Sandy relief funds while projects in Atlantic City and Ventnor are co-funded by federal funds and the DEP. 

Coastal protection construction in Atlantic City and Ventnor was mostly completed in 2004 and was later restored prior to Sandy in 2012. Construction picked back up after the storm hit the East Coast. 

The contract was also awarded despite a federal lawsuit filed by a handful of Margate homeowners who don't want the dunes to be built, the Press of Atlantic City reported.  A hearing is scheduled on Dec. 13. 

“When complete, the engineered dune and berm will be one system with the purpose of reducing damages to the infrastructure on the island," said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Michael Bliss in the news release.