A federal project to rebuild beaches and dunes between Manasquan Inlet and Barnegat Inlet will not start until after summer, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.
Gov. Chris Christie announced in October an "accelerated schedule" of projects to restore beaches damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The schedule called for the beaches in Toms River and other municipalities on Ocean County's northern barrier island to start in June.
But the work is not likely to start until sometime after Labor Day, according to Ed Voigt and Richard Pearsall of the Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District.
A complex array of partnership agreements, environmental permits and other prerequisite planning will keep the project from starting in the spring, they said.
Pearsall said the solicitation for bids will go out in July with awards made in September and construction starting after that.
The schedule affects property owners, beachgoers, vacationers and rental agencies in beach communities hit hard by Superstorm Sandy hit in October 2012. Sandy's storm surge cut through the barrier islands at some points, flattened dunes in other places and eroded beaches. There have also been fears that a nor'easter or hurricane could wreak havoc on communities that are now only protected by temporary berms built after Sandy.
But a summer work schedule would have disrupted the height of the beach season.
State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna confirmed that the environmental work and design reviews necessary for large-scale beach projects likely led to the delayed schedule.
"You would have expect that there would be some revision to schedules," Hajna said.
The federal government will pick up the full $86 million cost of the initial project. The project area would then be part of a three-year maintenance cycle with the Army Corps of Engineers returning to restore the beaches to the initial project dimensions.
The federal government pays for 65 percent of the program, while the state Department of Environmental Protection picks up the other 35 percent. Of the state's portion, municipalities are required to contribute 25 percent. That leaves towns responsible for only 8.75 percent of the total cost for subsequent projects.
Two other projects, Long Beach Island and Margate-Longport, look to be on a similar schedule. A project from Ocean City to Sea Isle City may be slightly ahead in the process, with working possibly starting after Labor Day.This week, Toms River Township Council President Maria Maruca said 13 properties whose owners have not signed easements to allow small slivers of land to be used in the dune projects would have those parcels taken by eminent domain by mid-March.
Lavallette's oceanfront is publicly owned and does not require private easements to be granted for the work to get underway.