OCEAN CITY- Like many of the offseason projects conducted in the resort this winter, beach replenishment in Ocean City has not been immune to the unusually harsh weather and now has a target completion date of May 10, or about five weeks after what was originally planned.
The preliminary work on the vast network of dunes in Ocean City began in early February in advance of the larger beach replenishment project that began roughly around February 25. The beach replenishment project started at the north end of the resort at 146th Street and for the last two months or so has been progressing in a southerly direction toward its final conclusion around 4th Street.
This week, crews and heavy equipment were working in an area roughly between 77th and 80th Streets, which suggests they are a little better than half way there. City Engineer Terry McGean said following a weekly progress report this week persistent bad weather including a series of harsh winter storms has delayed the project, but it now chugging forward to an estimated completion date of May 10. The original target date was April 2.
McGean said the May 10 completion target is only for the pumping of sand from an offshore dredge through a network of pipes on the beach where bulldozers and other heavy equipment spread it out and disperse it. The installation of sand fences around the dunes, the planting of dune grasses, signs and other aesthetic features of the project will likely continue into the summer.
“That date includes pumping and demobilization only,” he said. “Fence work will continue into the summer by the state’s contractor.”
During the ongoing sand pumping operation, sections of the beach under repair will be closed for up to three days. The equipment will be run practically around the clock, seven days a week, until the dune repair and replenishment project is completed. McGean said once the project reaches the north end of the Boardwalk at 27th Street, the pumping operation will be less intense.
“They are going all the way to 4th Street, although the amount of sand between 27th Street and 4th Street is pretty small,” he said.
After the sand pumping is completed and the beach is fully restored, dune fencing, dune crossovers and dune vegetation will be replaced or repaired, completely restoring the resort’s beaches with a project that will now extend into the early part of the summer.
The project is being conducted as part of the regular four-year cycle. The Ocean City beaches are routinely replenished every four years with periodic emergency projects as needed following storms and other natural events. Beach replenishment began in Ocean City in 1994 through a 50-year agreement with the town, Worcester County and the state of Maryland partnering with the federal Army Corps of Engineers, which provides over 50 percent of the funding for the massive undertaking.
The beach replenishment program is critical to the protection of Ocean City and its valuable resources from flooding from tropical storms, hurricanes and nor’easters. To date, the project is credited for preventing an estimated $600 million in storm-related damages.