It's about a month later than planned, but Ortley Beach, the section of Ocean County oceanfront that took the worst beating during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 is finally poised for interim dune and berm reconstruction.

The Army Corps of Engineers and private contractors set up field headquarters Thursday morning, while bulldozers and loaders rumbled in with landing pipe and transfer piping, according to Toms River Township public information officer Stacy Proebstle.

Originally scheduled for a mid-April start, the project addressing Ortley is part of a $128,000,000 reconstruction of dunes and berms from Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet. Weeks Marine of Cranford, fresh in from a Florida project that caused the delay, is simultaneously juggling a similar project on Absecon Island in Atlantic County.

The Corps and the contractors anticipate two intensive weeks of work when hopper dredges arrive, on or about May 24, adding 267,000 cubic yards of sand and creating a 225-foot-wide beach along the full 4,000 feet of oceanfront, 1,000 feet at a time.

Township officials noted that they are engaged in court proceedings with two land owners who so far have refused to sign easements granting access for the project, attempting to secure the light by virtue of eminent-domain policy. The onset of litigation allows crews to place sand on the disputed properties, Mayor Tom Kelaher said, allowing for a contiguous line of dunes and berms.

Since the Superstorm, Toms River officials have paid upwards of $8,000,000 for sand delivery and spreading until the larger project, under the auspices of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, could begin. State grants covered part of the cost.

Once complete, work in Ortley is scheduled to resume in either October or November. Other beaches on the northern barrier island will undergo rebuilds during the summer.

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