Firsthand look at how dredging works at NJ beaches

BEACH HAVEN PARK, N.J. (WPVI) -- Larger, protected beaches.

That's the end result of dredging that beach-goers typically see.

Action News had the chance to get on board the dredge ship Liberty Island off the coast of Long Beach Island to see how the entire process works.

It is one of three vessels currently working on the massive $138 million project to build berms and dunes on LBI, part of the overall plan to protect the entire Jersey coast from hurricane and storm damage.

"It sounds easy: we're going to pump sand on to the beach. Well, there's a lot that goes behind it, a lot of engineering, a lot of science goes behind it," NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin said.

Working with the US Army Corps of engineers, crews from the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company work around the clock. They drop 30 inch suction pipes from either side of the ship that claw through the ocean floor at what's called a 'borrow site.'

"Lowers some drag arms, literally sucks up the sand with water, stores it in the hopper and then transports it back to the pump," Lt Col. Mike Bliss of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

"Bring it into a location where we hook up to a buoy and then the sand is pumped out pipelines to the beach," Steve O'Hara of Great Lakes Dredge & Dock said.

A small army of bulldozers and other heavy equipment move the sand around.

The idea is to extend the beach by several hundred feet and build a dune 22 feet high.

"Started with it about 8-million cubic yard of sand and then with some of the storm damage we had through the winter, we are actually going to go back and fix more areas and it'll total out to 11-million cubic yard of sand," Lt. Col. Bliss said.

The LBI beach replenishment project is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.