OCEAN CITY – State and federal officials this week said replenishment efforts along Ocean City’s beaches are halfway complete.
At a press conference Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan, Col. Edward Chamberlayne, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District, provided an update regarding beach replenishment efforts that began in Ocean City in late October.
Located nearly a mile offshore, a hopper dredge from the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company can been seen pumping sand from offshore reserves onto the beach.
Chamberlayne said the private contractor is halfway through the project, which is moving southward from the Delaware-Maryland line toward the Boardwalk. Officials expect the project to be completed by the end of December.
“We are here today to highlight the ongoing beach renourishment effort …,” he said. “You can see behind me we are hard at work here today and it’s certainly something to be proud of.”
Chamberlayne said nearly 900,000 cubic yards of sand will be pumped onto the beaches of Ocean City.
“If you take the Empire State Building in New York and you filled it will sand it’s about a million cubic yards,” he said. “So here today on this beach that’s what we are doing.”
The overall project consists of a beach berm that is elevated 7 feet, a protective sea wall that is built into the Boardwalk and a vegetated dune system that continues north of the Boardwalk to the state line.
“These elements work in concert to reduce the impacts of inundation, storm surge, wave action, reducing the risk to the community and public infrastructure from coastal storms both big and small,” Chamberlayne said.
Beach replenishment along Ocean City’s coast is part of a 50-year agreement that began in 1994 between the town, Worcester County, the state of Maryland and the Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District to reduce coastal storm risks through periodic maintenance projects.
Ocean City’s beaches are replenished every four years with the last renourishment project taking place in 2014. Beach erosion expedited by Winter Storm Jonas in January of 2016, however, pushed the timetable up to this fall.
“This berm (or beach) is the first line of defense against coastal storms and as such it’s designed to take the brunt of the storm’s impact,” Chamberlayne said. “That means it is going to lose sand and it’s going to be renourished again …”
Chamberlayne explained that 60 percent of the $12.7 million project is federally funded. The remaining portion is funding by state and county contributions.
“All of our infrastructure projects the Corps is involved with is always cost-shared with the great local partner here, so this is an absolute success story,” Chamberlayne said.
Hogan said the ongoing replenishment project is vital to the town’s infrastructure and the 8 million visitors who come to Ocean City each year.
“Most people are aware of how great the beach is here, but what most visitors don’t realize is that Ocean City’s prime attraction, this legendary beach, is also a very important part of a massive project to protect Ocean City and our coastal shoreline from powerful coastal storms and hurricanes,” he said. “We must safeguard the Town of Ocean City and our coastal shoreline and this beach for future generations, which is why I am so pleased to be here today to announce that work will officially begin again on the Atlantic Coast of Maryland Shoreline Protection Project.”
Hogan said the coastal storm risk management project and partnerships with federal, state and local agencies have prevented an estimated $927 million in damages since the agreement began in 1994.
“This is just one more way that we are continuing to change Maryland for the better,” he said.