PLUM ISLAND — Any concern that money would run out before repairs to the south jetty along Plum Island were completed evaporated yesterday with the announcement of an additional $5.5 million in funds for the project.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers secured the federal funds as part of the Disaster Appropriations Act of 2013 supported by U.S. Rep. John Tierney.
The additional funding coupled with the $3.5 million that was appropriated last February brings the total secured for the repair work to about $9 million.
“The recent winter storms have only reinforced how urgent this matter is for homeowners and the surrounding communities. With these funds, the corps advises that the south jetty project will be completed,” Tierney said.
But even with the new money, local and state lawmakers cautioned that work on the jetty is still expected to temporarily cease on March 31. That’s because April 1 marks the day that wildlife officials have earmarked for a cessation of construction activity so plovers, which migrate back to Plum Island each spring and summer, can arrive, nest and procreate.
Officials have been advocating for the additional funds since the original $3.5 million was awarded. Their most recent pleas came during last week’s Merrimack River Beach Alliance meeting, when members of the group said they would write letters to Tierney and other federal representatives asking for more funds.
By repairing the jetty, officials are looking to slow the erosion of Plum Island, which has been battered to the point where several houses on Annapolis Way in Newbury are in danger of falling into the ocean.
So far, about half of the 1,200-foot jetty has been heightened and reinforced.
Officials expressed relief that the most vital part of the protective rocky structure — the stone work under the mean high-tide mark — has been completed. They said they hope the Army Corps of Engineers will be able to reinforce an additional 200 feet by the end of March.