A major beach replenishment project that has been held up for nearly two years by budget constraints and bid protests under federal procurement policies will be put out into the open market in a fresh bid next month, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told Shorebeat this week.
Contrary to some local rumors, the project has not yet been put out for a re-bid. Instead, the bidding process will effectively begin from scratch, being re-advertised by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said Stephen Rochette, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District.
“We are currently working through that process now,” Rochette said. “It is anticipated that we can send out an advertisement for a contract by the end of March, open bids in April, and then, if bids are acceptable, awarding a contract and proceeding to construction as quickly as possible.”
The project is badly-needed in certain areas of Ocean County’s northern barrier island – particularly Ortley Beach, where beach entrances are perpetually damaged and often closed off due to coastal storms. While the dunes, built about seven years ago, have held strong and never breached, erosion has caused “cliffs” to form in Ortley, as well as several other trouble spots including Normandy Beach and Bay Head. Ortley, however, has been the most-affected area, leading Toms River Township forced to commit several hundred thousand dollars worth of beach restoration work to the oceanfront before Memorial Day each year for the past several seasons.
The project is primarily funded by the federal government, with the “local share” in this case having been promised to be funded by Ocean County rather than municipal governments.
Part of the replenishment project will include a re-engineering of Ortley Beach’s oceanfront, moving dunes to fill in bare spots in some location – especially near the former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club site – and expanding the beach berm (the area of sand where beachgoers set up their chairs and umbrellas) by several hundred feet to physically widen the beach in order to prevent future erosion from dramatically altering the area.