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December 4, 2012     Cape Gazette
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December 4, 2012
 

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2 TUESDAY, DECEMBER 4 - THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2012 NEWS Cape Gazette O'Mara wants federal funding for beach, dune By Ron MacArthur and other section of about 650 feet, slaoreline is from south to north. Laura Ritter sand was 3 feet deep. ]etties constructed in the 1930s to ronm@capegazette.com It took crews from DNREC,stabilize Indian River Inlet inter- DelDOT, a private contractor rupt the natural flow so sand Tons of sand blocked the and the National Guard more builds up on the south side ofthe southbound approaches to Route than four days working sunrise inlet. A sand bypass pumping 1 at the foot of Indian River Inlet to sunset to move the sand off system with pipes running from bridge following Superstorm Route 1 in order to reopen the the south side of the inlet across Sandy, but state officials say it bridge to traffic, the bridge to the north side is will take much more sand to pro- used by DNREC to widen the tect the road from future storms. Morn work needed to fix beach north-side beach. Department of Natural Re-But, more work is needed to The pumping operation moves sources and Environmental Con- provide an adequate buffer be- trol Secretary Collin O'Mara says tween the Atlantic Ocean and!__ 1 million cubic yards of sand is Route 1 on the sand-starved ' needed to rebuild the dune and beach north of the Indian River -1 widen the beach on the north Inlet. side of the inlet. That's three Tony Pratt, administrator of times more than the amount of DNREC's Shoreline and Man- sand used in two resorts during a agement Section, said the storm recent coastal replenishment draws attention to an ongoing project; problem. "The status quo has State officials have offered var- been a sand deficit to begin ied estimates as to the amount of with," he said. He said the U.S. sand removed from Route 1 after Army Corps of Engineers would Sandy, from as little as 25,000 cu- play the lead role in any sand re- bic yards to as much as 175,000 plenishment project. Pratt said cubic yards of sand. state officials would likely re- Using aerial photographs, quest additional sand from out- Delaware Department of Trans- side sources through the corps, t. portation engineers estimate "It needs immediate attention," about 25,000 cubic yards of sand he said, adding the area has nev- washed over a half-mile stretch er been part of a beach replenish- of the highway. O'Mara says his ment project. agency estimates the total is clos- He said the beach on the north er to 125,000 to 175,000 cubic side of the inlet should have a yards washed on the roadway, 100-foot-wide dune with a 200- with just as much sand washed foot-wide beach, similar to Re- into the ocean, hoboth Beach before the storm, No matter what the actual to provide protection to Route 1 more than 100,000 cubic yards of number is, officials agree on one and the bridge, sand annually across the bridge thing: It will take much more Pratt said DNREC and corps to rebuild the state park dunes sand to rebuild the beach and staff are in the process of taking and beach north of the inlet, protect access to the bridge. O'- surveys to determine how much Brower said. O'Mara said no Mara said building a 100-foot sand eroded and how much sand sand is pumped during the sum- dune and 200-foot wide beach remains in order to make plans mer season but that policy could could take as much as 1 million for the future. Funding will be re- be revisited. Once the beach is cubic yards of sand, more than quested as part of a supplemen- widened, O'Mara said, moving three times the 261,000 cul6ic tal request for federal disaster re- 200,000 cubic yards of sand each yards of sand pumped onto the lief aid for projects to repair year would better maintain the beaches in Rehoboth Beach and damage caused by Superstorm beach. Dewey Beach during the most Sandy. Douglass Robb, DelDOT recent replenishment project. O'Mara said Delaware officials bridge engineer, said DelDOT As Sandy churned offthe coast are working with officials from and DNREC staff are both work- Oct. 27 into Oct. 29, waves and New York, New Jersey and Con- ing on a plan to provide better storm surge breached the road- necticut. "If Delaware were ask- protection for the northern way in several places about one- ing on its own for the corps to be Route 1 approach to the bridge. half mile from the base of the authorized to replenish the He said DelDOT is looking at a bridge north along Route 1. In at beach near the bridge, it would project using a buried corrugat- least two locations, the ocean be a complicated process," O'- ed metal sheet piling to protect water and sand washed into the Mara said. "But hopefully with an 800- to 1,000-foot-long sec- marshes on the west side of the all the states working together, tion of roadway just north of the road. DelDOT officials closed something can get done." bridge. the road early Oct. 28, and it re- O'Mara said the role of the mained closed for a week. corps since the 1980s has been to O'Mam: R tom Prime Hook At least a half mile of dunes provide engineering support - Funding for beach replenish- was lost, said Frank Piorko, di- not beach replenishment- in the ment near Indian River Inlet rector of DNREC's Division of area of the Indian River Inlet. He bridge would compete with a Watershed Stewardship. said federal authorization would proposed $20 million request DelDOT engineer and project be required to replenish the from the state to replenish the manager Sarah Criswell said it's beach, beach and dunes at Fowler Beach estimated the sand was nearly 3 Dan Brower, program manager in Prime Hook National Wildlife feet deep on the northbound in DNREC's Waterways and Refuge. Breaches in the dunes al- lanes of Route 1 for 2,150 feet. On Shoreline Management Section, low tidal flow of saltwater from the southbound lanes, the sand said the natural flow of sand the Delaware Bay into freshwater was about 1 foot deep, but in an- along the Delaware's Atlantic marshes and have destroyed THE NORTHBOUND LANE crews work to remove sand from the storm Sandy. This is the before shot taken a day after crews started removing sand from Route 1. This is the after shot. By the end of the were (?_pen to traffic. marshland that once provided protection for the nearby com- munity of Primehook Beach. Superstorm Sandy not only widened the breaches, but also deepened them exacerbating the flooding problem and leaving the beach community more vulnera- ble. DNREC Secretary Collin O'- Mara said the requested funds would be enough to close the breaches and begin marsh restoration, which he said is paramount in stabilizing the area. "We have to add sediment and plant with saltwater tolerant plants," he said. "Marsh restora- RON MACARTHUR PHOTOS Is completely shut off and covered with sand as southbound lanes of Route 1 following Super- weekend following the storm, all four lanes tion on the scale of hat is need- ed has not often been undertak- en here" He said there are examples of large-scale marsh restoration - in some cases assisted by private funding - along the banks of the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. O'Mara said no matter what action is taken, the "prognosis for coastal areas with delicate ecosystems such as Prime Hook Refuge is not good. "Over the next couple generations, we're going to have a lot of problems," he said.