LAVALLETTE – Governor Phil Murphy and Senator Bob Menendez today marked the start of Memorial Day Weekend and the Jersey Shore tourism season by highlighting joint federal-state efforts to make New Jersey’s coastline more resilient to future storms and the impacts of sea-level rise caused by global climate change.
“New Jersey’s shoreline and coastal communities are key to our state’s $45 billion tourism economy and are integral to our identity as a state,” said Governor Murphy. “Our collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and our local communities to strengthen our beach infrastructure will enhance our coastal resiliency and preserve and protect the Jersey shore from major storms.”
Through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the State works closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop innovative and comprehensive flood-risk reduction solutions for the state’s coast, expansive back bay areas, and Raritan Bay region. Properly engineered beaches and dunes are vital to making New Jersey more resilient to major storms as these structures absorb the impact of storm surge, preventing damage to homes and infrastructure.
“We’re here today not only to celebrate another wonderful Memorial Day weekend at the Jersey Shore, but yet another milestone in our recovery from Superstorm Sandy,” said U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. “The pristine beaches we see today are the result of your federal tax dollars at work. If Sandy taught us anything, it’s that our beaches need to be strong. Our beaches and dunes are our frontline defense to shield our homes, businesses, iconic boardwalks and coastal towns from powerful storms and the pounding waves and ruthless winds they bring.”
“People from across the state and around the world come to our beaches to enjoy their beauty and walk our boardwalks,” said U.S. Congressman Andy Kim. “I’m proud to support efforts to keep our beaches replenished and ensure the beaches of Ocean County are protected for generations to come.”
“New Jersey is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because of its geology and geography,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “Many of our coastal areas are slowly subsiding, a natural process, while sea-level rises, making it even more imperative that we act swiftly to protect our future.”
In response to the extensive damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began work on the $129M Northern Ocean County storm-risk reduction project in 2016. Beach and dune construction have now been completed in Point Pleasant Beach, Mantoloking, Lavallette, Toms River, Seaside Heights, Berkeley, and Seaside Park, with only the Bay Head portion of the project remaining.
The project, which covers 14 miles of coastline along the Barnegat Peninsula and includes 11 million cubic yards of sand pumped from offshore, is one of the largest of its kind ever undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For most of the project area, beaches have been established that are between 100 feet and 300 feet wide and dunes have been built to heights of up to 22 feet above sea level.
The federal government is funding 65 percent of the project using money appropriated under the 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, which funds projects that Congress had previously authorized but had not been completed by the time Sandy hit in October 2012. New Jersey will pay for 35 percent of the project from the state’s Shore Protection Fund. The beaches and dunes will be periodically nourished for a period of 50 years.