SHIP BOTTOM - A long-awaited beach replenishment project is underway at one of New Jersey's top vacation spots.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has started work in Ship Bottom on a $128 million project that will restore nearly 13 miles of beaches and dunes on Long Beach Island.

The island was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. 

“I think it’s going to keep the water from coming in as fast and as high as it was during the storm,” says Bill Rinck, of Beach Haven.

The work is part of a $1.2 billion appropriation by Congress to return the beaches to a better condition than they were in before the storm hit.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin says that 49 property owners on Long Beach Island refuse to sign easements, but he says it won't stall the project. The state has already appraised the land and will soon be making offers to buy it.

"If those negotiations don't work out, we'll go to court and file complaints and take it through the eminent domain process,” Martin says.

Sand will be pumped on Long Beach Island all summer long, but the state says it will limit each work area to 1,000 feet at a time to minimize the disruption during the busy summer season.

Completion on the project is expected by April 2016.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.