Beach-restoration job's completion expected tomorrow


OCEAN CITY -- Work on the "war zone," as one angry beachgoer deemed the oft-delayed sand-pumping project along Ocean City's beaches, should be completed by tomorrow.

The sand-pumping portion of the $12.5 million beach-replenishment project comes to an end just before the last summer holiday weekend.

The work was initially expected to be completed by mid-July, but inclement weather and other problems caused delays, state Department of Natural Resources officials said.

With just two blocks of beaches left to restore Friday, for instance, pumping was halted as remnants of Hurricane Andrew moved across the Eastern Shore, causing 25 mph to 35 mph winds and seven- to eight-foot waves and damaging a submerged pipeline, said Nancy Howard, a DNR spokeswoman.

"It's virtually impossible for dredgers to work in those conditions," Ms. Howard said.

Pumping is now taking place between 144th and 146th streets -- the northern end of Ocean City's 10-mile coastline.

"We're just two blocks short of being finished," Ms. Howard said. "My guess is we'll be done in the next 24 to 48 hours." But it will take weeks for contractors to remove heavy equipment and pipes from beaches, she said.

The project, designed to restore beaches ravaged by a January LTC northeaster, began in mid-May. As sand pumping has dragged on throughout the summer, complaints from some beach-goers have intensified.

Doris Naiman and her family, of Baltimore, cut short their late-July vacation after just two days of listening to bulldozers and other heavy equipment move sand along the beach in front of their oceanfront apartment.

"Our apartment shook. Our beds shook. The noise was abominable. A group of 100 kids couldn't have made more noise," Ms. Naiman said.

"We had to go three blocks just to get to the beach."

Beach areas are roped off as sand is pumped from the ocean floor to shore, forcing bathers to walk a block or two out of their way.

Crews work day and night on the beach with heavy equipment to move and level the newly pumped sand.

Ms. Naiman, who has written state officials to complain about the work, questioned why beach replenishment is not done in the fall or spring.

"That's when -- as a rule -- we get the kind of weather we had the other day. That's why we don't do this work off season," Ms. Howard said.

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