As clouds moved out – and the afternoon sea breeze kicked in – on Monday, crews with Weeks Marine made their way onto the Third Avenue beach in Ortley Beach, pumping sand into the heart of the oceanfront area.

Crews were building up a 22-foot dune in front of the main public parking area for the neighborhood and extending the beach by at least 200 feet. With a possible nor’easter on the way, locals were all smiles as they saw the protection they’ve been seeking for years being built right in front of their eyes.

“It’ll get a lot of people some better sleep at night,” said Paul Jeffrey, a neighborhood resident who serves as vice president of the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association. “It’s going to take a mighty storm to make an impact on these [dunes].”

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Beach access is currently closed at 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th avenues. The pipeline dredge E.W. Ellefsen is conducting beachfill operations.

The project is moving south-to-north and will last through early December, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the project.