At a press conference recently held at the Waterfront Library in Keansburg, N.J., Rep. Frank Pallone announced progress on the Army Corps of Engineers’ Keansburg Beach Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction Project. The replenishment effort, which is broken into four contracts, began in late 2013, with the first 1 million cubic yards of sand being pumped onto nearly 2.5 miles of the New Jersey shoreline to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy. New York District Commander Col. Paul Owen spoke about project details and timelines to an audience including Borough of Keansburg Mayor Arthur Boden, local officials and area residents.
In partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Corps is restoring the Keansburg Beach Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction Project through two contracts: $36.9 million for beach, berm and dune restoration (Great Lakes Dock and Dredge Co., Oak Brook, Ill); and $3.4 million for levee and wing wall repairs (Di Irio Construction Corp., Rutherford, N.J.). As of March 2014, debris has been removed, levee repairs completed, and wing wall repairs, outfall repairs and sand placement work is underway. Beach restoration and wing wall repairs are scheduled for completion by Memorial Day, and outfall repairs by fall 2014.
RESTORING THE ORIGINAL PROJECT
Originally constructed by the Corps 40+ years earlier (1973), the project provides hurricane and storm damage risk reduction to Keansburg and East Keansburg, and is designed to withstand a 200-year storm. The current repair and restore work is 100 percent federally funded through two standing authorities: the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Act (PL 84-99), authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to repair previously constructed projects after a large event like Sandy to pre-storm conditions, and the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (PL 113-2), authorizing the Corps to restore previously constructed projects severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy to their original design. This allows the Corps to place a great deal more sand than was lost from Hurricane Sandy, resulting in a much wider beach and higher level of coastal storm risk reduction than existed prior to Sandy.
VALUE OF BEACH RESTORATION
In general, areas having Corps of Engineers’ hurricane and storm damage risk reduction projects in place fared better during Sandy compared with areas lacking such projects. Storm damage risk reduction projects such as engineered beaches have proven their worth reducing risk to coastal communities and mitigating damage by acting as a buffer against wave action, inundation and erosion. Without beach renourishment, flooding and wind-whipped waves from a hurricane would likely extend further inland, threatening more people, homes, businesses and vital infrastructure. In New Jersey alone, Sandy damaged and destroyed 346,000 housing units and nearly 19,000 small businesses, resulting in $8.3 billion in losses.