Cliffs measuring about 10-feet in height were carved out along several blocks of the oceanfront in Ortley Beach, fortunately just in time for a beach repair project to get underway.
Nearly four days of pounding surf and constant wind caused moderate erosion, though the new damage was difficult to quantify given the fact that some beach entrances remained damaged from previous storms over the fall and winter seasons. The worst of the erosion occurred in the most common trouble spot: Sixth Avenue and several blocks surrounding it on either side, especially north toward the site of the former Joey Harrison’s Surf Club property.
Beach entrances have been officially closed in those locations for months. A few local residents entered the beach at other locations and walked to survey the damage, and a few anglers cast lines hoping to find a striped bass as the spring run begins. Mobi-Mats at the beach entrances were rolled and, in some cases, ruined, while a freshly-carved “cut” along the dune line could be clearly seen. Some various pieces of maritime flotsam – from logs to a lobster pot marker buoy – were strewn along the beach.
Last week, Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill said he instructed a crew from Earle Asphalt Company, which has been hired to repair the township’s beach entrances in preparation for the fast-approaching summer season, to hold off on starting their work until after the storm passed. It proved to be a wise decision, as officials attempted to avoid a repeat of 2021, when repair work was completed, only for a storm to move in just before Memorial Day weekend and necessitate an entire second round before the season began in earnest.
Despite the damage, the dunes did their job. While the beach berm – the portion of the sand on which sunbathers usually sit during the season – was reduced to a few feet, the protective dune itself was merely eroded in certain places and was never at any remote risk of breaching, as it did during Superstorm Sandy.
Ortley Beach’s physical makeup will be re-engineered as part of an upcoming federal beach renourishment project to provide a significantly larger berm and an evening-out of some areas of beachfront, as reported by Shorebeat in a previous story. But recently, it was revealed that after months of wrangling over financing at the local level, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the project, was forced to reject bids and re-solicit proposals for the work after they did not meet the budget. It is estimated that the entire renourishment project from Point Pleasant Beach to South Seaside Park will cost about $60 million.
Last week, Toms River officials unanimously approved a resolution awarding a $304,913 contract to Earle Asphalt Company to deliver sand, repair beach entrances and restore the dune crossovers to a working condition. The contract will include the beleaguered Ortley Beach neighborhood and some entrances in other publicly-owned portions of the township’s oceanfront.
The contract will include repairs of all of the dune crossovers that were damaged over the fall and winter months. Earle’s bid on the project represented the lowest proposal – by far – for the work. The next-lowest bid was $597,000, followed by the third-lowest bid of $625,000.
It is possible that repair crews could begin working on beaches in the township as early as this week. The National Weather Service is calling for a mixed-bag of sunshine and showers the rest of the week, though no significant storms – and no high winds or surf conditions – were expected. Seas will run 3-5 feet Tuesday and 2-3 feet the rest of the week, the NWS marine forecast said.
“A lingering mid/upper level low across the Great Lakes will keep cool and unsettled weather with daily chances for scattered showers across the region for much of the upcoming week,” the forecast said.