It's unlikely the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will modify their federal sand dune project to meet the individual storm protection needs of beach communities along the Jersey Coast.

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Sand dunes (Photo by Dave Einsel/Getty Images)

Studies done before Superstorm Sandy determined a uniform dune and berm system is the most cost-effective option, according to Steve Rochette, spokesman for the Army Corps' Philadelphia District.

"These projects all go through an extensive feasibility study, where we look at the economics, the environmental issues and the engineering aspects of these projects. They're designed in order to reduce the most storm damages relative to the cost," Rochette said. "We have to pick the plan that's essentially the most cost-effective in order to reduce coastal storm damages, and we also have to pick the plan that works for the whole stretch."

Rochette explained allowing municipalities to make modifications to the dune project would make it difficult to tie them all together.

"That's just from a practical standpoint," Rochette said, adding that the Army Corps views the project as one area, not a collection of municipalities.

"We recognize that that's not the case, but we're trying to design a plan that works for that stretch in order to reduce storm damages, so many different options would be something that would be difficult to implement," Rochette said.

Seaside Heights wants to deviate from the one-size-fits-all project, and has argued a sea wall offers a more permanent alternative to a dune that can wash away, and would cost less than a dune to maintain and replenish.

The borough also has contended its boardwalk and amusements make it a unique tourist attraction, and having visitors walk up and over a 120 foot dune just to get to the water would hurt tourism.

Rochette conceded there is some room for compromise, and said influence from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for a modification to the project would be taken into consideration.

"They're our non-federal sponsor and our partner on these projects across Jersey, and so they could certainly come to us and request something, but I haven't heard of anything like that having taken place," Rochette said.

Any requests would require additional studies, according to Rochette.

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