Stage is set for IR inlet beach rebuilding

Hurricane Sandy relief funds to pay for $6.6 million project
July 19, 2013

Beach replenishment along the Delaware coastline is scheduled to get into high gear before the end of July.

Two separate projects – Indian River Inlet and Fenwick Island – will jump start coastal beach rebuilding paid for with more than $25 million in Hurricane Sandy emergency relief funding through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Contractor Manson Construction of Jacksonville, Fla., was laying the last sections of dredging pipe July 17 leading from inside the inlet to the northside beach in preparation for dredging to begin. Over the next three months, workers will pump more than 500,000 cubic yards of inlet sand to rebuild a 3,500-foot section of beach – about two-thirds of a mile of coastline, said Corps spokesman Steve Rochette.

The beach was eroded as Hurricane Sandy passed off the coast, sending sand and water over Route 1 and closing the Indian River Inlet bridge for almost a week. Over the past few months, a Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control crew has been resculpting a protective dune along Route 1 on the north side of the bridge.

Work will take place 24 hours a day in 1,000-foot sections of beach. Sections where pumping is taking place will be closed, Rochette said. The area is a popular beach for surfers.

Pat Cooper, park administrator for Delaware Seashore State Park, said the walkway under the bridge and jetty should remain open to fishing most of the time during replenishment.

Rochette said the new beach will have a 25-foot wide dune that will be 16 feet above sea level, which is similar to other dunes along the Delaware coast. He said the contract states the beach must be a minimum of 50 feet wide, but that most of the beach will be much wider. The project will cost $6.6 million; work is expected to be completed by early to mid-September.

Rochette said the project will have a side benefit by removing silt to improve the channel in the inlet.

Replenishment projects in Fenwick Island, South Bethany, Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach are also scheduled to take place over the next five months; each project should take about 25 to 30 days to complete.

Contractor Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. will move north, stopping at each coastal town after completing work in Fenwick Island. Rochette said the total cost of the projects is $19.3 million with 1.3 million cubic yards of sand to be pumped on the beaches. Work in Dewey and Rehoboth should take place in the fall.

Work on the north-side jetty is not part of the project. Some residents and members of Delaware Surfriders Chapter have said the northside inlet jetty is in disrepair and contributes to the loss of sand on the adjacent beach. They claim the jetty is half the size it once was and that sand passes through and around the jetty back into the inlet.

As of presstime, Rochette had not responded to a request for information on the condition of the jetty.

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