Emergency replenishment needed at inlet
Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy threatened the north-side approach to the new, $150 million Indian River Inlet bridge, a visit to the bridge reveals no evidence work is under way to protect the bridge. The single greatest threat to Route 1 north of the bridge – and to the bridge itself – is the ever-widening sand imbalance between the south-side beach and the ever-more-narrow beach north of the inlet.
Aerial photos of the bridge reveal no sand covered the state park parking lot south of the inlet during and after the storm.
North of the bridge, where the inlet starves the beach, Route 1 was so deep in sand the road was closed for a week.
The question is, what are state and federal officials waiting for? The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must be mobilized to widen the northside beach.
As the Cape Gazette has frequently reported, the corps’ mandate is to protect improved property. As a result, beach nourishment projects generally do not widen state park beaches.
Still, it is clearly the job of state and federal officials and the Army Corps to protect the bridge and the primary traffic artery of the Cape Region.
Why was no sand pumped onto the northside beach during the last round of beach nourishment? And why is the new pumping system, installed when the new bridge was built, not currently pumping sand? It’s bad enough the pump is normally inactive during the summer; this system should at least pump full time during the off-season.
Even after officials closed the bridge for a week, neither transportation nor environmental officials have said a meeting is scheduled to remedy this critical infrastructure problem.
It’s now past time for talks. It’s time to widen the inlet’s north beach with an emergency nourishment project and then use the pumping system to maintain a wide, protective beach.
In the meantime, close the beach and pump sand full time – even if it means pumping through next summer.
The existence of the bridge is at stake.