BRANT BEACH -- With tempatures soaring into the 90s this weekend, many are certain to appreciate the open spaces provided by the Brant Beach replinishment project.
Beachgoers should be aware of some changes and precautions as the project wraps up on Friday and they head out for some fun in the surf and sun.
1. The replenishment comes with a 50-year guarantee from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
According to Long Beach Township’s Engineer Frank Little, the agreement with the Corps calls for them to re-pump sand back on to the beaches in case of erosion at the federal agency's expense. This includes cases of extreme weather such as the storm that carved up the beach in Surf City shortly after their recent replenishment, said Little. He added the Corps' contractors returned to Surf City and restored the beach and dunes at no cost to the Borough.
“The Corps will also inspect our project every 5-7 years and make any repairs necessary,” said the township engineer.
2. There will be some sand reclaimed by the surf and this is a good thing. According to Little, about 100 feet of the new beach will be reclaimed and will most likely help to reform a sandbar just off the shoreline. This sand bar will serve as a “breakwater” to help dissipate the surging waves that occur during storms and cause beach erosion.
“Our plan called for a completed project with 125 feet of beach from the water line to the toe of the dunes,” he said. Right now the beach is at least 225 feet to account for the reclaiming that is anticipated to occur over the next year, he added.
In addition the reclaimed sand will also make the drop off more gradual once a bather enters the water. The current slope is estimated at 1 to 10 or for every 10 feet traveled there is a one foot drop. That is expected to change to 1 to 20 said the engineer.
3. The beach extension has buried the existing jetties which will be exposed gradually over the next year. Beachgoers should use caution when walking the shoreline or swimming in the jetty areas. The township has placed warning signs at the bottom of the access path on the beaches where the jetties are located, said Little.
4. The only handicap ramp being rebuilt is at 47th Street, but the beaches are overall more accessible, according to Little and Mayor Joe Mancini. The existing handicap parking pads at 37th and 39th streets will remain, the mayor added.
The Corps budgets for one only handicap ramp per mile of beach which is about the length of the project that extends from 31st to 56th streets, said Little.
They could have requested more ramps, but the cost would have been approximately $100,000 each for the township, he added.
Mancini said with the new more gradual slope of the access paths he has already seen people in regular wheelchairs as well those using the township’s BeachWheels using them to get on the beach.
“The old ramps only went to the top of the dunes, then people had to negotiate the drop off. Now each path is graded up and down,” said the mayor.
Little said the path’s construction also makes them easier for everyone to access the beach. Instead of having to walk up and down through the soft sand the paths are constructed from hard packed sand to a depth of six inches and then topped with a gravel mixture. To hold the paths intact they are framed on either side by 6 by 6 railroad ties, he said.
5. Off season vehicle access to the beach in this area is now restricted to 45th Street. The access road goes up and down the dunes to the beach. The fenced off road is wide enough to accommodate the four wheel vehicles use by fishermen in the fall and spring when they are allowed on the beach.
Poles are being driven at staggered angles at all other entrances to restrict access to anyone other than Beach Patrol or emergency vehicles.
6. Stay Off the Dunes! Protective dune grasses can not be seasonally planted until the fall, and there are no fences lining the paths. There are signs and warnings of the fines for walking on dunes.
The mayor said the paths will be patrolled and the dune ordinances will be enforced.
Mancini said the township chose to only install the dune fencing at the toe of the dune line rather up and down the paths for aesthetic reasons.
“Once the grass has been planted and grows for next summer, we think people will know better than to walk on it. We hope they know already that by staying off the dunes is one of the best ways to protect them,” he said.