ERIK LARSEN @ERIK_LARSEN BRICK — Work will be completed next week on a steel sea wall to protect the barrier island sections of Brick and Mantoloking in the event of another disaster like superstorm Sandy.
The project literally hit a snag almost two months ago with the discovery of a 19th century sailing vessel, buried deep under the sand. The subsequent archaeological investigation forced contractors to leave a 200 foot gap in the 3.5-mile long wall. The find was made in the Normandy Beach neighborhood of Brick.
Maritime archaeologists have since determined — using geophysical testing and ground-penetrating radar — that the debris field of the wreck does not extend under the gap left in the wall, said Lawrence Ragonese, a spokesman with the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Work on the sea wall within the gap resumed Friday, with the final steel sheets expected to be driven into the sand early next week. Only about 300 linear feet of steel panels remain to be installed, Ragonese said.
“We are pleased that the results of this investigation will allow us to complete the driving of steel within a matter of days, without impacting the remains of the vessel,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin in prepared remarks. “This project will protect a vulnerable segment of New Jersey’s coastline and will complement a new dune system to be constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
The origin of the wreck remains a mystery, Ragonese said. Some historians have theorized it is the remnants of the Scottish brig, Ayrshire, which foundered off the coast near there on Jan. 12, 1850, with 201 English and Irish immigrants aboard. The location of the ship’s grave has never been identified.
Relic discovered during drilling
Using a specialized drill to drive 45-foot steel sheets into the beach during the week of Halloween, workers struck the relic at a depth of about 25 feet. The panels are driven into the ground 30 feet below sea level. Eventually, the top of the steel wall will itself be buried under sand. According to the DEP, the firm Dewberry of Fairfax, Virginia, has been contracted to conduct the archaeological investigation. That includes the research, field documentation of timbers and materials unearthed from the site, as well as a damage assessment. Last week, DEP geologists used electrical resistivity to detect and map subsurface patterns of the wreck and employed a Geoprobe, a hydraulic machine that drives 2-inch steel boring rods into the ground.
The archaeological investigation is required by the National Historic Preservation Act, which mandates that projects which receive federal dollars consider the impact to historic properties. The Federal Highway Administration is funding 80 percent of the $23.8 million sea wall project, Ragonese said.
Mapping of wreck debris field
The state Historic Preservation Office, which is under the umbrella of the DEP, is recommending to the federal government that the Geoprobe work continue this month to fully map the range of the debris field. A final draft report on the wreck will be submitted to both the state and federal governments within one year, according to Ragonese.
The elaborate wall and dune system are designed to prevent the level of catastrophic damage that occurred to the coastlines of Mantoloking and Brick, when the Oct. 29, 2012 superstorm laid waste to both towns and pulverized a section of Route 35, a major state highway along the Jersey Shore.
Erik Larsen: 732-557-5709 or email@example.com
Timber from a 19th century shipwreck was uncovered on a Brick beach during the sea wall construction project.
COURTESY OF BRICK TOWNSHIP
Some historians theorize the wreck is the remnants of the Scottish brig, Ayrshire, which sank off the coast on Jan. 12, 1850.
Work is expected to be completed next week on a steel sea wall to protect the barrier island sections of Brick and Mantoloking in the event of another disaster like superstorm Sandy.