A $10 million beach replenishment project began Friday in Ocean City and will continue 24 hours a day for about three months until beaches from Seaspray Road to 14th Street are widened.
The project is part of a regularly scheduled series of beach maintenance projects for north-end and downtown beaches, but the work takes on a special urgency in the wake of the Oct. 29 Superstorm Sandy, which wiped dune systems and left protective "geotubes" entirely exposed.
A 309-foot dredge operated by the Great Lake Dredge and Dock Company of Oak Brook, Ill., sits about a half-mile off Surf Road beach in Ocean City and is the source for what will be 1.8 million cubic yards of sand pumped at 19,050 cubic yards per day.
Dredging began Friday at Atlantic Blvd. Beach and will proceed north to Seaspray Road Beach, then move south to 14th Street.
The current limit of the project is 14th Street, although the city is negotiating to extend the project south within a federally approved project area that extends to 36th Street.
City administrators say they also are hoping to secure a separate replenishment project for beaches between 36th and 59th streets.
The cost for the original project prior to Superstorm Sandy was $10,320,000, of which the federal government was responsible for 65 percent, the state Department of Environmental Protection 26.25 percent and the City 8.75 percent.
It is estimated that supplemental Sandy funds will add about $5.5 million to the contract to buy sand lost to the storm at 100 percent federal cost.
People may watch the operation from a safe distance behind established safety fence/tape boundaries during daylight. The project site is dangerous at night and spectators are strongly advised to stay away.