LONG BEACH ISLAND — After a 14-month absence, the channel markers are back in place in the Little Egg Inlet.

A U.S. Coast Guard team successfully installed eight lighted buoys on May 21 after they were removed in March 2017 when the buildup of sand reduced the depth of the inlet, making it impassable for most boats.

The shoaling triggered the need for a major dredging project, which was undertaken by the Coast Guard, N.J. Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. With the project complete, the inlet is now a safe navigable waterway, according to officials.

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"The safety of mariners is our main priority,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Chris Beahr of the Cape May-based team charged with the project. “When areas become too shallow to safely mark, we have to remove the aids to navigation so mariners know the area is not the same safe depth as before. Buoys 1 and 2 are larger than the other buoys and will provide a better visual signal during the daytime, as well as having brighter lights at night.”

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently working to add Little Egg Inlet as a "sand borrow site" for future dredging and beachfill operations on Long Beach Island. The project's purpose is to prevent loss of life and reduce damages to infrastructure and homes from future storms, officials said.