By Mari Lou
Beach replenishment will begin in Bethany Beach the week of May 20th and should be finished within 28 days. The $19.2-million project will included dune and beach repair to South Bethany and Fenwick Island. Work will begin in Bethany Beach and move south. Work is scheduled to be completed in Fenwick by mid to late July.
In mid May two “hopper dredges” will begin repair work in tandem on our beaches; first supplying sand for replenishment to a pipe located between 3rd and 4th Street, and then to a pipe located between Wellington Parkway and Parkwood Street.
The schedule of construction calls for the beach to be repaired beginning in the 3rd/4th street area and move to our northern border, and then south from the 3rd/4th street area to the midpoint of our beach. At that time replenishment will begin from the Wellington/Parkwood pipe, move north to the midpoint of the beach, and when that is completed, move from Wellington/Parkwood to our southern border.
To assure the project is completed as quickly as possible construction is scheduled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Again, the estimated time to complete the repair/replenishment of our beach is 28 days.
During construction a 1000’ linear foot portion of the beach will be closed. This 1000’ closure will be a “rolling” closure and move as the repair and replenishment work is completed. It is estimated that 200’ of beach will be repaired and restored every 24 hours.
This project also involves repairing and/or constructing dune crossovers, access points, planting dune grass and the replacement of dune fence. Dune crossover and beach access work will take place within days of each section of the beach and dune being repaired. However, because the optimum time to plant dune grass is after the first frost, dune grass is scheduled to be planted in late 2018.
The USACE Bethany Beach/South Bethany and Fenwick Island Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project was first constructed in 2008. The design template includes a 150-foot beach (berm) backed by a dune at elevation 16 feet (North American Vertical Datum). The current contract involves pumping 659,000 cubic yards of sand onto Bethany Beach, 500,000 cubic years of sand onto South Bethany and 278,000 cubic yards onto Fenwick Island.
Undoubtedly some will question the timing of this project. Unfortunately, neither the State of Delaware, nor the affected communities have the ability to schedule these projects as they would like. Likewise, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers does not have the luxury of scheduling projects when it is best for the intended recipients. Instead, scheduling is driven by many factors outside of anyone’s control. A few of these factors include the timing of funding, obtaining necessary permitting, survey and plan development, and the availability of dredging companies (there are a limited number of companies capable of doing this work and they are in great demand).
In closing we would be remiss if we did not thank our Congressional delegation for their hard work on our behalf. Their tireless efforts procured the funding for this project and will give us our beach and protective dune back! Special thanks to Senator Carper, who is relentless in his work to restore and sustain all of Delaware’s beaches. Thank you.