By TIM KELLY, OCNJDaily
If the popular saying “life’s a beach” holds true, there wasn’t a whole lot of life on the Ocean City shoreline from 45th Street through 59th Street in recent years.
All that changed recently with the completion of a beach replenishment project which saw the 1.5 mile stretch from Corson’s Inlet State Park to 45th St., replenished with 555,000 cubic yards of new sand, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversaw the job.
“It’s beautiful,” said nearby resident Paul Jaudinski.
“It’s huge! We can almost give Wildwood a run for its money,” he said, referencing the famously wide stretch of sand of that other Cape May County resort.
Jaudinski continued, “It used to be people were elbow-to-elbow on this beach. It was always crowded and the beach was so narrow. There should be a lot more room for everybody when the crowds return in the summer.”
Jaudinski also had praise for the Army Corps and the contractors who completed the work.
“They completed it so quickly,” he noted. “Everything looks so nice and clean. There is nothing for people to complain about. This beach is beautiful.”
The next phase of the project will see a similar replenishment further north on the island, from Seaview Road to 13th Street. That work is slated to begin in May, with the dredge, pipes and other equipment to be installed in the area in April.
During that phase of the project, 1.4 million cubic yards of new sand will be pumped in.
In some areas, the work also involves repairing dunes, fixing damaged access paths and stairways, installing a sand fence and planting dune grass, Army Corps officials said.
Additionally “a vulnerable stretch of the dune was rebuilt near 59th Street,” Mayor Jay Gillian said in his weekly message to residents and visitors.
The bulk of the work in the southern part of Ocean City, the Strathmere beach in Upper Township, and in Sea Isle City, involves the widening of the beaches in front of the dunes.
A $32.5 million contract was awarded for the project, including all three towns. The Ocean City portion of the job also includes work in the Great Egg Harbor and Peck’s Beach, a stretch from Surf Road, southwest to 34th Street, including an elevated berm.
An option built into the contract could raise the overall cost of the project to $41.3 million if surveys show even more sand is needed.
Most of the completed stretch of beach was deserted on Monday. The people who were there, however, such as Jaudinski and his friend Peg Doyle, expressed amazement upon seeing the massive stretch of replenishment.
“What a difference!” Doyle exclaimed. “(Seasonal visitors) will love it!”
She said that in years past, beachgoers needed to stake a claim early in the day if they hoped to find a place to park their beach chairs and blankets.
“They really did an outstanding job,” she added.
Paul’s dog Anna happily agreed, finding the newly wide-open spaces well-suited for romping and sniffing seaweed.
A bit further south at 51st Street, Lois Werner, who lives near Tennessee Avenue, said she was in the neighborhood to help dog-sit her friend’s German Shepherd, Maverick. Werner made the high marks for the new beach unanimous.
“It was really well done,” she said. “Look at all these shell pieces,” Werner commented.
“It’s probably fine,” Werner said of the shell pieces. “These will get mashed down over time.”