STRATHMERE – The dredge Illinois arrived off the coast of Strathmere Wednesday, a couple weeks later than planned.
The dredge was originally scheduled to arrive off Strathmere around April 21 and begin pumping sand onto north end beaches, but it was held up in dry dock in Norfolk, Va. for repairs. It left for the Jersey shore Wednesday, April 29 and arrived off Cape May earlier this week.
Wind had kept the dredge along the inland waterway since Friday, May 1, according to township engineer Paul Dietrich. On Wednesday, it was towed out to the dredge site, he said.
Strathmere is set to receive 1.3 million cubic yards of sand as part of the federal beach replenishment project. That is three times the amount originally planned, but recent surveys found more sand was needed to build beaches to a planned template.
The north end of Strathmere was severely eroded last summer, prompting the township to declare an emergency situation in case it had to truck sand in.
The dredge Illinois will pump sand onto Strathmere’s north end until the first week of June, when it will depart to do work in Avalon. Avalon has contracted with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company to perform a $6 million municipal beach replenishment project that must be completed by June 29.
Officials have said that once the work is done in Avalon, the dredge will return to Strathmere and complete the project there. It will continue to move south and pump sand onto all of Sea Isle City’s beaches.
Sea Isle City officials don’t expect work to start there until July and end sometime in November.
The Great Egg Harbor Inlet to Townsends Inlet project also includes south Ocean City from 36th to 59th streets. A separate dredge is performing that work.
The $57.6 million project is being managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and funded by the federal government.
Upper Township has entered into a 50-year agreement with the Army Corps for periodic nourishment of beaches in Strathmere. Ludlam Island, which includes Strathmere and Sea Isle City, will be on a 5-year nourishment cycle. South Ocean City will be on a 3-year cycle.
The cost share for those future beach replenishment projects will be 50-50 between the federal and state governments, with local towns picking up 25 percent of the state cost. Corson’s Inlet will be used as the borrow site for those periodic nourishments, according to officials.
Great Lakes Dredge Company will close 1,000 foot sections of beach at a time during the project. Work is set to continue 24 hours a day.
On Ludlum Island, which encompasses Strathmere and Sea Isle City, the dune will be 15 feet above sea level and 25 feet wide at the top. The beach will be 50 feet wide from the seaward base of the dune.