USA: Officials Commend Corps’ Efforts to Restore Delaware Coastline
Federal, state, and local officials gathered at the north shore of the Indian River Inlet in Delaware on Aug. 5 to witness the dredging, pumping and placing of sand onto a beach that was significantly eroded by Hurricane Sandy.
The work at the inlet is one of three contracts the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District has awarded to help restore the Delaware coast and is part of a larger effort to restore projects across the northeast.
“We were fortunate we didn’t get hit worse by Hurricane Sandy,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. “Moving forward, having this kind of protection in place is incredibly important and I want to thank the Army Corps for their efforts here and elsewhere along the coast.”
The Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control have funded and operated a sand bypass plant at the Indian River Inlet since 1990. Each year, the state pumps approximately 100,000 cubic yards of sand from the south shore onto the north shore beach.
The scope of the current job is much larger than any work done in recent history, the Corps and state have not pumped more than 175,000 cubic yards of sand in a given year since 1984. The ongoing project involves dredging more than half a million cubic yards from the inlet and pumping it several hundred yards around the jetty and onto the north shore over a length of 3500 feet.
The sand is then built up into a design, similar to what has been done along the other oceanfront beaches of Delaware, a berm backed by a dune with a crest width of 25 feet at an elevation of 16 feet (NAVD).
“When we went through the process to repair and restore the project under the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies program, the question became whether we had authority to build a dune,” said Jeff Gebert, chief of Coastal Planning for the Philadelphia District.
Since the Indian River Inlet Sand Bypass project authorization involves multiple documents from different decades, it took some research to answer that question, but a Senate report called for the construction of a dune.
When complete, the dune will help protect a critical location in Delaware. Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damages and overwash on the north shore of the inlet as several feet of sand covered Route 1. The major thoroughfare was closed for several days.
“We will have better protection for Route 1 than we’ve had for a long time,” said Tony Pratt, shoreline administrator for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Manson Construction Company began work on July 23 and expects to complete the project in September.
A separate project to restore beaches both north and south of the Indian River Inlet is also underway.
The $19.3 million contract with Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company includes the dredging, pumping and placing of 1.3 million cubic yards onto Rehoboth, Dewey, Bethany, South Bethany and Fenwick Island beaches. Work began at the end of July and is expected to be complete in the fall.
On the Delaware Bay, the Philadelphia District will restore the Roosevelt Inlet-Lewes project by trucking in 21,000 cubic yards of sand. Work is expected to begin in September.
All of the projects will be restored to full design levels.
“It’s exciting to know that the beaches are not just being replenished but fully restored,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. “I’m grateful for the prompt response by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in getting these projects under way on our coastline.”
Press Release, August 13, 2013