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AVALON – A moderate-sized back-passing project that was probable for 2021 became a larger project and a certainty, after two weeks of winter storms damaged Avalon’s north-end beaches.  

With a federally sponsored hydraulic beach fill project not scheduled until 2022, the borough will use its manpower and funds to move as much as 60,000 cubic yards of sand from an approved borrow area south of the Avalon fishing pier to the fill areas in the north-end beaches.  

Before the storms, the borough hoped a smaller effort to move as little as 20,000 cubic yards might be sufficient. 

Avalon’s Public Works Department has experience with back passing, having successfully conducted similar projects in the past. This year, Business Administrator Scott Wahl told Avalon Borough Council there is a “new wrinkle.”  

Although the borough uses its manpower, it must rent the heavy equipment needed for the loading and transport of this much sand. 

The equipment is large and heavy, creating a dilemma concerning how to get the equipment on the island. Neither the Townsend's Inlet Bridge nor the 96th Street Bridge, in Stone Harbor, can handle the weight.  

The bridge connecting North Wildwood to Stone Harbor also cannot handle the width and weight of the equipment. That leaves only the route along Avalon Boulevard, from Middle Township into 30th Street in the borough. The problem is that this route is temporarily compromised by county construction on Ingram's Thorofare Bridge, the only bridge capable of accommodating the weight of the large sand loaders. 

According to Wahl, the county construction schedule should allow the equipment to pass over the bridge after the middle of April. Public Works Director William McCormick told the council that as a result, the borough’s schedule to begin the back-passing operation starts May 3.  

Work will begin in April, preparing the route along the beach for the heavy dump trucks that must pass under the fishing pier and over the borough’s stormwater outflow pipe without damaging either. 

Borough Engineer Thomas Thornton told the council that the state and federal permit process is in hand, with the use of issued permits, although survey work to meet permit conditions must be performed at both the borrow and fill areas. 

The later-than-usual schedule for the back passing comes with the benefit that it lessens the likelihood that a new storm will take the sand off the north-end beaches after the project’s completion.  

The downside is that the north-end beaches will be reconstructed during May, closer than usual to Memorial Day, the traditional summer kickoff. The tight window makes the project vulnerable to anything that might disrupt work. 

Given the experience gained in past back-passing projects, borough officials feel confident the sand can be moved and graded in time for the holiday weekend at the end of May.  

A key may be having the equipment ready to move over the one bridge that can handle it as soon as the bridge construction will allow it. 

To contact Vince Conti, email vconti@cmcherald.com. 

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