Prime Hook: Close the breach first

August 14, 2012

State transportation officials say they will use a $640,000 grant to reduce flooding that frequently closes Prime Hook Road. Larger, improved culverts, DelDOT officials say, will allow water to flow under the road and reduce water that backs up and floods over the road, cutting off the only public access route to the Primehook Beach community.

Residents and other users of Prime Hook Road agree the road is in need of repair. As numerous photos and stories in the Cape Gazette have documented, the road floods during major storms and even after minor ones.

Residents, for years, have been asking, demanding and pleading for the road to be kept open.

But even the most optimistic of residents will find it hard to believe this $640,000 project will make a serious dent in the problem.

They say the real problem is the wide breach in the duneline south of nearby Fowlers Beach.

The 4,000-foot breach – we’re talking a gap three-fourths of a mile wide – allows saltwater to flow in, overwhelming the marshes, which at times are now underwater.

Even DelDOT officials say the proposed culverts will not solve the problem.

Residents have been waiting for more than a year as Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge officials complete a comprehensive management plan for the refuge, which is now in its final stages.

Refuge managers offered a preferred alternative for managing the refuge, a let-nature-take-its-course approach that would not close the breach.

At hearing after hearing held to collect public comment on the plan, residents have demanded the comprehensive plan start with closing the breach.

Residents point out the obvious: The Prime Hook Road will continue to flood as long as the breach remains open.

It’s time for state and federal officials to stop throwing money at stopgap measures.

There is only one plan that makes sense: Close the breach first. Then fix the road.



  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Dave Frederick, sports editor.