The federal government has awarded a contract for the construction of dunes and replenishment of beaches on Absecon Island, clearing the way for post-Sandy recovery work to begin in Margate and Longport before the end of the year, the Christie administration announced Friday.

The $63 million contract, awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers to Cranford-based Weeks Marine Inc., also covers scheduled construction of berms and dunes in Atlantic City and Ventnor.

Margate fought Gov. Christie in court over his plan to use eminent domain to build dunes to help protect the Shore town from future storm damage, but a judge ruled in the state's favor in April.

According to the administration, the Absecon project is funded by the $1.2 billion Congress authorized in 2013 for the rebuilding of New Jersey's coastline in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the state in October 2012.

The contract announced Friday covers an eight-mile stretch from Brigantine Inlet south to Great Egg Harbor Inlet, the Christie administration said.

"This project is vital to the protection of homes, businesses, lives, and infrastructure in these Atlantic County communities," said Bob Martin, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Work is expected to be completed by October 2017, the department said.    856-779-3846