State of the Beach/State Reports/NJ/Shoreline Structures

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New Jersey Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access84
Water Quality78
Beach Erosion8-
Erosion Response-4
Beach Fill8-
Shoreline Structures 8 2
Beach Ecology3-
Surfing Areas35
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


Shoreline structures are permitted through New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. These structures must not cause adverse effects to the local and downdrift sand supply. The structures can be rebuilt within limitations and emergency shoreline structures, with a priority given to the use of sandbags, are permitted.

The Waterfront Development Law, Section 12:5-3 states that the Department of Environmental Protection regulates construction on or adjacent to navigable waterways and streams. Under the law, a shoreline protective device requires a permit from the Division of Coastal resources. Repair, replacement, or renovation of shoreline structures existing prior to January 1, 1981 is exempt to this law.

The Coastal Zone Management Rules can be found at:

Section 7:7E.7:11 states information regarding coastal engineering development. Non-structural solutions to shoreline erosion problems are preferred over structural solutions. However, construction of new shore protection structures or expansion or fortification of existing structures, including jetties, groins, seawalls, bulkheads, gabions and other retaining structures are acceptable when these five conditions are met:

  1. The structure is essential to protect public beach areas, and/or existing structures along developed shorefront areas from erosion.
  2. The structure does not cause significant adverse effects on local shoreline sand supply
  3. The structure does not cause erosion downdrift
  4. The structure does not negatively effect living marine and estuarine resources
  5. The structure is consistent with the State’s Shore Protection Master Plan

In addition, the standards for maintenance and construction of an existing bulkhead are discussed. Basically, bulkheads can be reconstructed as long as the new structure or added material does not exceed the old bulkhead by more than 24 inches outshore of the existing bulkhead.

Section 7:7E-3A.3 contains policies regarding emergency post-storm beach restoration. The Coastal Zone Management rules allow the placement of concrete or rubble for temporary use for no more than 90 days. Sand-filled geotectile bags or tubes are preferred to the placement of concrete rubble or other material.

According to the 2001 Assessment, through both permitting and technical assistance, the NJDEP strongly encourages the use of bioengineering as an alternative to hard shoreline structures, particularly along lower energy shorelines of the back bays and rivers. In conjunction with the National Resource Conservation Service, the NJDEP has developed and adopted a general permit for the use of bio-stabilization structures to protect shorelines with native and adaptive vegetation species. The NJDEP has also encouraged the construction of sloped riprap revetments as opposed to bulkheads. In many areas, bulkheads have caused adverse impacts resulting from the reflection of wave and current energy, causing scour and erosion of sensitive environmental resources. While still considered to be "hard" shoreline structures, sloped revetments cause less adverse impacts. The NJDEP has adopted a coastal General Permit to facilitate the construction of these preferred structures.

In New Jersey, $25 million is dedicated annually from the legislature for "shore protection" projects across the entire state. These funds come from New Jersey’s real estate transfer tax. Most of this money goes to the state share of federal projects with USACE. USACE generally funds 65 percent of these projects; the remaining 35 percent of the project is split between the state and the municipality. The state/local share in New Jersey is split 75 percent/25 percent, so it only costs the municipality nine cents out of every dollar to finance projects. New Jersey is also engaged in smaller state/local projects with no federal involvement, financed also at a 75 percent/25 percent state/local ratio. The municipalities typically raise bond revenues for their portion and counties sometimes fund a portion to help defer the local costs (Kaiser, 2006; King, 2006).

In August 2016 legislation to double state funding for beach replenishment and construction and maintenance of bulkheads, jetties, and seawalls was approved by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee. The Senate committee also passed a Senate version sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew. The bills would increase from $25 million to $50 million the amount that is credited each year to the Shore Protection Fund from the collection of realty transfer fees.


Information on the extent of shoreline armoring in New Jersey is readily available online at:
You can download a statewide shoreline structures coverage.

Based on the downloaded file, New Jersey had approximately 5.6 miles (4.4%) of armoring (only revetments and seawalls) along the open ocean coastline in 1993. In addition, New Jersey had a 0.75 mile breakwater, 24 jetties, and 368 groins that add to the percentage of armored coastline. These structures have an effect on the beaches updrift and downdrift.

Staff at the Bureau of Coastal Engineering at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection revealed that no significant additions to shoreline armoring have been made since 1993 (when the above assessment was made). The DEP also stated that many of the older shoreline structures have been covered by major beach replenishment efforts. However, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy (October 2012), $40M in federal and state funds are being used to construct a steel sea wall along 4 miles of seaside neighborhoods in Mantoloking. The sea wall would be a steel curtain — panels called sheet pile, driven vertically into the sand, with the bottom 32 feet below sea level and the top 16 feet above. That above-sea level height would be covered by a beach berm and the primary dune in front of oceanfront homes. At the north end of the borough, a number of homeowners are paying to extend a rock revetment, similar to that in neighboring Bay Head, and that privately funded project could go as far as Lyman Avenue where the steel wall would begin. Project completion is estimated to be by the end of 2014. More on this. Another update.

The Fall 1997 South Carolina Sea Grant Coastal Heritage Publication Armoring the Coast: Beachfront Battles over Seawalls states that 50% of New Jersey’s shoreline is armored.

See the Beach Fill section for a table of "shore protection" projects for which a total of $65 million in state and federal funding was approved in December 2003. Although most of the funding was for beach fill projects, funding was also included for some "bulkhead replacements and jetty construction."

DEP's Coastal Engineering Web page contains information on shoreline structures, beach fill projects and also has related coastal links. Current Federal and State beach fill and shoreline structure projects in New Jersey are listed here. Completed projects are also listed.

Information on shoreline armoring can be made available via a compact disc containing Geographic Information System (GIS) data on the extent and location of shoreline structures. The GIS data is available upon request from the New Jersey DEP.

Two seawalls were constructed to protect the inlets at the north ends of Avalon and North Wildwood. The House approved more than $12.6 million for this project in 2004. Construction began in August 2004 and was expected to last between 18 and 24 months. The seawall construction was part of a larger project that included the placement of 4.6 million cubic yards of beach fill and dune reconstruction on the ocean fronts of Avalon and Stone Harbor (already completed) and the periodic re-fill on these beaches approximately every three years.

Cape May has a long history of shoreline armoring projects, including placing artificial concrete reefs offshore and building rock revetments. In 2001, the borough became the first shore town in the state to use gabions, which are normally used along riverbanks, canals and highways. While a rock revetment stops the waves, the water gets bounced back and this often causes a scouring problem on the ocean floor. Gabions (structures comprised of wire baskets filled with granite rocks) are supposed to act like revetments but without the scouring, since water can wash through them. The gabion walls placed in 2001 at Cape and Whilldin beaches were hidden by a dune system. Those gabions included three tiers. The first at sea level was 15-feet wide and 2-feet high. The second tier was farther away from the water and was 9-feet wide and 3-feet high. The top tier was farther back and was 6-feet wide and 3-feet high. The state designed and paid for most of that project. In December 2007 it was announced that the state had agreed to provide 75 percent of the costs, as much as $500,000, to continue a project which would allow placement of gabions on sections of the Pearl, Brainard and Stites beaches. The borough would fund the other 25 percent and pay engineering costs. The project is anticipated to begin in October 2008 and be timed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan to replenish local beaches with sand.

An article Atlantic City seeks flood protections including seawalls and drainage improvements was published in The Press of Atlantic City on January 4, 2013. The article stated that "Constructing new seawalls and bulkheads to protect Atlantic City is part of an estimated $238 million in projects being sought to repair and shore up the city’s infrastructure..." and "Including $75 million in Sandy damage estimates, the final price tag would be $313 million...". The planned projects include nearly a continuous row of seawalls and bulkheads stretching from Oriental Avenue to Gardners Basin.

An article in MyrtleBeachOnline on August 20, 2013 described a seawall project in Manlocking and Brick to construct a steel wall along the beach that will extend 16 feet above the beach and reach 32 feet below the ground. The metal will not be visible because sand from a pending Army Corps of Engineers beach fill project would cover it. The wall will run for the entire length of Mantoloking and neighboring Brick Township and cost about $40 million. It is meant as a short-term protective measure, to be complemented by an extensive beach widening and dune construction project being planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The federal government will pay 80 percent of cost of the steel wall, with the state paying the remainder. The towns' only expense will be to keep it covered with sand. An updated report on this project appeared at on October 21, 2014. According to the article, the steel wall, now estimated to cost $23.8 million, was "nearly done" and that will now allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start a beach fill project for the entire 12-mile peninsula in northern Ocean County from Point Pleasant Beach to Island Beach State Park. The beach fill project requires numerous easements from oceanfront property owners, but the state will move to take property easements before the end of the year from oceanfront homeowners who have resisted beach fill projects. In April 2017, Brick township officials were expressing concern that the beach fill project was not being implemented as rapidly as expected. They planned to use "sand pushing" and some imported sand to try to keep the wall covered until the US Army Corps of Engineers project can reach Brick, now scheduled for December 2017 to March 2018. More.

In April 2017 it was reported that a long-delayed sea wall project would proceed in both Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, following a ruling by a state Superior Appellant Court. The project is being done in cooperation with the DEP and with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and would repair portions of the wall damaged by Super Storm Sandy on Oct. 29, 2012. Along with patching and repairing sections of the wall, the major portion of the project involves constructing the wall in stretches where it hadn’t previously existed. In Sea Bright that area is the approximately 1,000-foot stretch on the eastern side of Ocean Avenue facing the public beach in the downtown business district. In Monmouth Beach, plans call for the construction of a 675-foot section of wall in the vicinity of the Monmouth Beach bathing pavilion, a borough-owned and operated beach and pool club at 29 Ocean Ave. The project was initially announced in August 2014. According to the DEP’s press release at the time, the state would contribute $8.5 million toward the overall approximate $28 million project and it was expected to go out to bid later in 2014 with construction commencing in 2016. Current indications are that construction may begin in Fall 2017.

A report The Cost of Defending Developed Shorelines Along Sheltered Waters of the United States From a Two Meter Rise in Mean Sea Level (Weggel, Brown, Breen and Doheny, 1989) on EPA's Climate Change - Health and Environmental Effects Website notes that estimates of the cost of protecting Long Beach Island with seawalls and more sand from a 1 to 3 foot increase in sea level over the next century are $100 million to $500 million. These costs could begin to accrue soon and continue to be incurred throughout the next century.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.


Chris Tucker, Senior Engineer
Bureau of Coastal Engineering
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
1510 Hooper Ave.
Toms River, NJ 08753
PH: (732) 255-0794
FX: (732) 255-0774

Perception of Effectiveness

It is well documented that shoreline armoring has led to loss of sandy beaches in New Jersey. One report that discusses this is Effects of Hard Stabilization on Dry Beach Width for New Jersey by Mary J. Hall and Orrin H. Pilkey.

Public Education Program

LUR's website contains information on the following topics:

Included in this section is the following discussion on Coastal Special Areas - "The presence or absence of some Special Areas (SA) on coastal properties can be rudimentarily determined using the GEOWEB application and/or by referencing the SA link above. Details of Special Areas and requirements of working in or around them can be found in Subchapter 3 of the Coastal Zone Management Rules. You may also wish to consider contacting an environmental consulting firm that specializes in coastal development to help you better understand development opportunities and limitations on the property. More information can be found on our Coastal Determinations for Special Areas webpage."
"There are two linked Rules which govern the review of all coastal project proposals. The Coastal Permit Program Rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7E provide the processes for permit reviews. It includes details on what activities need permits; the qualifications for general permits or permits-by-rule; the details for pre-application meetings, contents and fees; review procedures and deadlines; permit appeals; and enforcement of the coastal laws and rules. The second rule is the Coastal Zone Management Rules (CZM Rules) at N.J.A.C. 7:7E. This rule defines Special Areas of environmental interest, details requirements for development projects and sets forth the compliance criteria for permit approval. Certain general permits require compliance of specific sections of the CZM Rule, for example “dunes” or “shellfish habitat.” (To view the shellfish maps, please go to the Coastal Permitting section of the Maps and Guidance Documents webpage.) Individual Permit applications must address and demonstrate compliance with each applicable component of the CZM rules for the specific site and regulated activity to be approved."

DEP's Coastal Engineering Web page contains information on shoreline structures, beach fill projects and also has related coastal links. Annual "State of the Shore" reports are also a linked from this page.

State of the Beach Report: New Jersey
New Jersey Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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