OCEAN CITY — Ocean City finished up “two for two” in Annapolis on Wednesday as the Board of Public Works approved the beach replenishment project in a unanimous decision.
The town saw first hand how valuable the beach replenishment project is after the November Nor’Ida storm damaged large portions of the sand dune, but worked well enough to spare almost all properties from damage during the three-day storm.
On Wednesday, the state saw the value as well, allotting $8.2 million of the local share to pay for the upcoming project, which is slated to begin next week, according to City Engineer Terry McGean.
Contractors have already begun to tear down the entirety of the fence that sits in front of the sand dunes on Ocean City’s 10 miles of shoreline, in which almost half of the dune system was damaged or destroyed by the November storm.
“What they allotted on Wednesday will consist of the trucking of the new sand, the fencing, dredging, crossovers, and the planning for the project,” said McGean. “They approved all aspects of the project, both the emergency portion from the storm, and what was already planned.”
Beach replenishment has occurred every four years and was slated to begin this spring prior to the so-called Friday the 13th storm in November. Originally, that project was reportedly in the $11 million range, with Ocean City, Worcester County, the State of Maryland and the federal government all contributing portions of funding through the Beach Replenishment Fund.
The Army Corps of Engineers told the town of Ocean City in early December that it estimated the cost of the damages to the sand dune system to be almost $10 million.
The town’s contributing share in the scheduled project was in the $500,000 range, according to town officials.
“We are going to be moving sand from areas that have an excess to the areas that were the hardest hit in the trucking portion of the project,” said McGean, “and we will move around what we already have in the system before we start pumping in new sand in the spring.”
Dredging is still scheduled to start in the spring, and McGean said that the wooden fencing system, which is a well-known part of the beach’s panoramic landscape, would be gone until at least mid-summer.
“It just doesn’t make sense to replace the fencing system until we have the dune rebuilt and replenished,” he said.
The only portion of the funding equation that needs to be determined, according to McGean, is the money to be allotted from the federal government.
“We are still waiting to see what they are going to contribute,” said McGean, “but at least we can start the project now with the money in the Beach Replenishment Fund.”