The nearly 10 miles of beach along Ocean City are set to be replenished beginning after Labor Day as part of a project that officials say has prevented nearly $1 billion in damages up and down the stretch.
State and local representatives, as well as those from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, last Thursday recognized the partnership that has been saving the beach for decades, and said the project’s cost of nearly $15 million is a small price to pay when considering the $1 billion in damages that have been prevented.
“This was truly a partnership,” Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said. “It’s the beach that is the mainstay of Ocean City.”
Meehan was a councilman when Hurricane Gloria ruined the beach and destroyed the Boardwalk in 1985.
Nine years after the hurricane, a new project had been constructed along the shore that included widening and raising the beach profile for 8.3 miles from Third Street to just north of the Maryland-Delaware state line and adding a vegetated sand dune that stretched for 6.9 miles beyond the Boardwalk.
As part of the project, beach renourishment was to take place every four years until 2044.
In July, the the corps hired New Jersey-based Weeks Marine to complete the replenishment, or regular maintenance of the shore for $15.7 million.
Compared to 2017, when the maintenance was last completed, the corps hired Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company to add 900,000 cubic yards of sand to the beach in Ocean City for $12.7 million.
This year, 800,000 cubic yards of sand are expected to be pulled from Weaver Shoal, which is located more than three miles from the coast of Ocean City on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Since the replenishment plan was implemented, Meehan said, there has not been any damage along the Boardwalk from ocean waves and high tides since Hurricane Gloria.
“Now the only time we replace this Boardwalk is when it wears out, not washes out,” he said as he stood on the boards. “The benefits far outweigh the cost.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Ocean City would not be what it is without the beach and that the replenishment efforts were primarily about the livelihoods of Marylanders.
Sen. Ben Cardin, the state’s senior senator, told the audience that the project was difficult to get to where it is now, where every four years the beaches can be replenished. But it continues to be important, he explained, for the people who live in Ocean City and the millions of people who visit the resort every year.
“We’re taking care to protect them from the uncertainty of climate change,” Sen. Cardin said.