The project can get underway now that the state Supreme Court has ruled that the benefit of Shore protection can be taken into account in the taking of easements – small slivers of shoreline that are privately owned – from owners who refuse to sign easements. After the ruling, and the subsequent settlement of an easement case in Harvey Cedars for $1, Gov. Chris Christie ordered coastal municipalities to begin taking the easements.
Toms River introduced an ordinance to condemn and take the easements earlier this month.
According to project engineers, the dunes will measure approximately 25 feet high and the beach will be extended by about 200 feet. The enlarged beaches and beefed up dunes will help prevent the type of overwashing and dune breaches that caused thousands of homes both on the barrier island and mainland during Superstorm Sandy.
A breach in Mantoloking is blamed for flooding on both sides of Barnegat Bay in Brick and Toms River, and overwashing in Ortley Beach was responsible for extreme damage in that neighborhood.
About 10,500 homes and businesses had some form of flood damage in Toms River, officials said.
"If homeowner associations had signed these same easements years ago like they were asked, this would never have happened," said Mayor Thomas Kelaher in a statement. "I’m thankful to the Governor for moving to secure the necessary easements so that this project can begin. We are in the process of using eminent domain to procure the easements from the few holdouts who refuse to sign on to the project."
Indeed, in sections of Long Beach Island where U.S. Army Corps projects were completed in 2007 and 2012, oceanside flooding was nonexistent and there were no breaches or washovers.
"All of these projects are critical to reducing coastal storm damage risks for those who live and work in coastal New Jersey," said Brigadier General Kent D. Savre, commanding general and division engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division, which worked closely with the Christie Administration in developing the dune construction schedule. "The Army Corps is committed to continue working closely with the state of New Jersey, as well as leveraging all of our organization's capabilities to deliver these projects as expeditiously as possible."
The project on the northern barrier island will include the construction of dunes and longer beaches in Bay Head, Berkeley, Brick, Lavallette, Mantoloking, Point Pleasant Beach, Toms River, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park.
The project is estimated to cost $86 million, the report said, and will be funded primarily by the federal government.
The overall project will begin in June 2014, though the exact schedule as to when Toms River beaches will be worked on has not yet been determined. Kelaher said his office will learn more about the timeline as the construction date draws closer.
"We don’t anticipate much interruption for beach closures because they will be working in various sections at a time," said Kelaher.
In the Long Beach Island project, swaths of about two or three blocks were closed at once, leaving nearby beaches open and accessible. Construction on individual streets there took two or three days each.
Kelaher said the township's temporary dunes held up well during the most recent nor'easter.