OCEAN CITY — The Army Corps of Engineers told town officials this week it’s going to take at least $10 million to repair the damage to the sand dunes.
City Engineer Terry McGean told The Dispatch on Wednesday that he had received the preliminary cost estimates from the Corps to replenish at least 450,000 cubic yards of sand, and he said that the assessment was probably a bit conservative.
“Their surveys were basically only done from the dunes into the water and up to about the knee,” said McGean. “They aren’t completely sure what was lost from the knee-high depth to about 25 feet which is how it is usually assessed. However, they did work that into the assessment and I don’t think it will cost any more than the $10 million.”
McGean said that the Corps will find a contractor to provide an assessment of the knee-high to 25-foot depths before starting the dredging portion of the emergency replenishment project, which is slated for May, but according to McGean, the Corps will start “trucking in sand for the dunes and the beach replenishment in probably 30-60 days.”
The original beach replenishment project, which happens every four years unless an unforeseen occurrence or damage to the dune takes place, was scheduled for late spring, according to McGean, and was projected to cost about $11 million.
According to the Corps’ cost estimates, the emergency dune repair will be at least $1.5 million, while replenishing the eroded beach is estimated at $8.5 million.
“The Army Corps of Engineers will be asking the federal government for the $10 million to repair the damage from the storm, and although we may get some support from FEMA, it appears that we will be getting most if not all of our help from the Corps,” said McGean.
The beach replenishment project, which was started in 1991 as a way to protect Ocean City from catastrophic storm damage and debilitating beach erosion similar to the 1933 storm that famously broke Assateague Island and Ocean City apart, the infamous 1962 storm and Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
Since 1991, the project has saved an estimated $238 million in property damages, all the while costing Maryland taxpayers as much as $100 million, to protect the state’s prized vacation home.
Although McGean says the Corps’ preliminary estimate may not be the final total, he said that any additional cost to the town would be more than likely covered by the already established and extremely well funded beach maintenance fund.