Riprap from old bridge worsening problem at IR Inlet

Staging areas, changes to north parking lot will be set up soon for year-long project
April 16, 2024

Story Location:
Indian River Inlet
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Strong winds, fast currents and ever-changing tides make the waters of the Indian River Inlet a rough place. Those factors are why a 110-foot-deep scour hole formed on the inlet’s north bulkhead and, ultimately, led to the collapse of the bulkhead’s concrete walkway almost five years ago.

Jesse Hayden, the state’s Shoreline and Waterway Management Section administrator, said another reason is that in the late 1980s, an inlet-wide pile of riprap was placed along the base of the former bridge that was replaced in 2012. The riprap was added to help protect the eroding support structures under the old bridge, he said.

What’s happened, he explained, is that scours have formed on both sides of the riprap because the strong currents and tides exacerbate the issue.

Hayden made his comments during an April 11 meeting on the much-anticipated $5.3 million project to repair a portion of the bulkhead and to sand-tighten a portion of the south jetty. Hayden was one of about a dozen officials from the state, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the construction company on hand to answer questions about the project.

Monica Chasten, Army Corps of Engineers project manager overseeing the project, said there are many hydrodynamic factors, but there are no plans to smooth out the pile of riprap.

Chasten said the effort is considered a major maintenance project. Much more work prior to construction would be required if this were a major rehabilitation project, she said.

Chasten said this is considered a high-profile project, and it’s been a challenge to get to this point.

“To see this type of money is pretty amazing,” she said.

In anticipation of construction, fencing is being installed around the staging area, said Bill Nash, the Army Corps’ project engineer. One-quarter to one-third of the north parking lot will be used, he said.

Additionally, the existing entrance and toll booth to the parking lot on the north side of the inlet will be closed; the parking lot exit at the north end of the parking lot will be widened and an entrance lane added; the public restroom facilities will be closed, with temporary bathroom facilities installed; and a temporary entrance to the campground on the north side will be added near the existing playground.

Once work on the bulkhead begins, which means driving sheet piles and placement of rock, the hours of construction will be 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Chasten.

The contract also calls for sand-tightening a 215-foot section of the south jetty. This work will involve installing steel sheet piling to reduce the amount of sand migrating into the inlet.

The Army Corps has plans to extend the inlet’s north jetty, but this contract does not include those repairs. Data is still being collected, said Chasten.

Part of the project is the removal of the concrete foundation that served an old coast guard antenna near the north jetty.

One of the attendees asked how the contractor would work in the area, because at high tide the structure is in water. They also wondered about the level of debris that will remain when work is done.

The response from representatives from the Army Corps and the construction company is that the machinery will be working on a sand base on the dune side of the structure so it doesn’t have to work in the water. The contract calls for all the debris to be removed.

The Army Corps isn’t putting a life expectancy on the work once the project is complete. This is a maintenance project, Chasten said, and the number of years it’s going to last is unknown.

“We were told something has to be done and this is what we’re doing,” said Chasten.

Steve Rochette, Army Corps spokesperson, said there will be weekly updates posted on the Army Corps’ project-specific website. That website is


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