Ocean City Today
https://oceancitytoday.villagesoup.com/p/1665614

Money set aside aids beach work

Advance $3 million allows corps to begin replenishment early
By Katie Tabeling | Jun 29, 2017
Photo by: Katie Tabeling

(June 30, 2017) The beach replenishment program that keeps the ocean from washing over Ocean City has the money it needs to proceed a year early, even though the 2018 federal budget remains in the murky stage.

At a Monday morning press conference, Senators Ben Cardin (D- Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) stressed that getting the money for the program in advance is a solid investment for the state.

“I don’t have to tell you that the 2018 budget is very unclear at this point, so there’s no guarantee the budget will pass in time,” Cardin said while standing under the Boardwalk’s archway on North Division Street. “That’s why we had to advance $3 million to beach replenishment because it’s vitally important to Maryland. This is an incredible place and people love the beach.”

The beach replenishment effort began in 1985, when local, state and federal officials realized they needed to mitigate storm damage and erosion after Hurricane Gloria blew up the beach. Buildings were built right up to the resort’s building line, with no dune between them and the ocean.

Three years later, the dunes were created with a 10-foot walkway between them, as well as a seawall.

“The beach protects Ocean City, and when a storm comes, you lose part of that beach,” Cardin said. “It results in $1 billion in direct savings in property damage; $3 million is the best investment we can make, it’s very clear to us it’s a great return.”

When the project was designed, it called for additional sand to be pumped on the beach once every four years for 50 years. That schedule was disrupted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Winter Storm Jonas in January 2016, said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager Justin Callahan.

“This contract will be awarded on Labor Day and wrapped up before beach season,” Callahan said. “About 900,000 cubic yards of sand will be dredged from the offshore shoals three miles away and put on the beach. Hopefully, it’ll provide enough protection for the next four years.”

The senators voiced their support of the accelerated timetable, noting that storm protection is crucial to the resort and its economy.

“When we think Ocean City, we think about the Boardwalk, fishing, great restaurants – and all of that comes together when we have a beach,” Van Hollen said. “If we don’t maintain our beach … we lose this incredible natural resource and all the economic and job opportunities that come with it.”

While in town, the senators also met with several local fishermen and Sen. Jim Mathias (D-38) to discuss dredging the inlet. The Army Corps funded $600,000 to continue dredging the inlet, which often gets clogged by excess sand and becomes impassable at low tide.

“I can assure you that Team Maryland is using every opportunity to help Ocean City,” Cardin said, referring to the collation of federal, state and local elected officials.

In closing, Cardin reassured the resort that although the Trump Administration’s proposed FY18 budget would leave vital projects like beach replenishment behind, “Team Maryland” would join other elected officials to provide a better solution.

“The administration’s budget would be devastating to municipalities, but the good news is Democrats and Republicans are  writing our own plan,” he said.

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