Leaders kick off holiday weekend celebrating Jersey Shore beach renewal efforts

LAVALLETTE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Ahead of the busy summer season, New Jersey leaders are highlighting efforts to make Jersey Shore beaches more resilient to future storms and sea-level rise.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, gathered in Lavallette Friday to celebrate a joint federal-state project that allocates 11 million cubic yards of sand from offshore to 14 miles of beach along the Barnegat Peninsula, the area heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The state teamed up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish beaches that are between 100 feet and 300 feet wide, and dunes have been built to heights of up to 22 feet above sea level.

The $129 million Northern Ocean County storm-risk reduction project, as it's called, is one of the largest of its kind ever undertaken by the USACE.

Most of the project has been completed: Beaches in Point Pleasant Beach, Mantoloking, Lavallette, Toms River, Seaside Heights, Berkeley, and Seaside Park are complete, with only the Bay Head portion of the project remaining.

Murphy said the Jersey Shore plays a key role in contributing to the state's $45 billion tourism economy and is integral to the state's identity.

"We're here today not only to celebrate another wonderful Memorial Day weekend at the Jersey Shore, but yet another milestone in our recovery from Superstorm Sandy," Menendez said. "The pristine beaches we see today are the result of your federal tax dollars at work."

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