Better beaches and bridge on the horizon


There’s no question that summer is right around the corner now, as thoughts turn to Memorial Day weekend and beyond, into the full swing of the summer season at the beach. And with that comes concern about the impacts of two projects designed to make coastal Delaware better in the long run but that might pose problems in the short term.

First, we have the long-awaited construction of the new Indian River Inlet Bridge. Motorists can begin to breathe a sigh of relief as the new bridge moves past the 80 percent completion point, on track for being open to traffic late this year. Soon, they’ll no longer have to make the drive over the 46-year-old existing bridge, which has given some pause as they see it continue in use beyond a lifespan that was once predicted to end about... now. Kudos to transportation officials for keeping close tabs on it until its replacement is ready.

In the meantime, motorists can expect to see the most significant traffic impacts to date starting in the coming weeks, as traffic shifts down to a single lane in either direction.

We encourage everyone to keep in mind not only the posted work-zone speed limit of 35 mph but also the traffic complications of that shift down to one lane. Traffic can be heavy in any given summer at the beach, but this new traffic pattern will require additional care from each and every driver until the roadways project around the bridge is finally completed sometime in 2012.

To the south, beach repair has already been completed in Bethany Beach, offering a bright spot for visitors to that town. In South Bethany, however, so many have expressed concerns about the planned June timeframe for beach repair there, and its impact on vacationers, that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week agreed to push the work back until November.

While it would be great to have more sand on the beach before the height of the summer season, there’s no question that our visitors would rather have peace and quiet, and a wide-open beach, than noisy dredging equipment and restricted access for a month. Pushing the project back until the fall seems to make the most sense here, and it’s great that a compromise could be found.

In Fenwick Island, they’ll have to deal with the inconveniences of the repair project this summer, but just for two weeks. Hopefully, that’s an acceptable compromise, as well, because the alternative might have been losing funding for the repair work for the foreseeable future.

Both these projects are designed to improve life in the area over the long term. Here’s hoping we can all deal with the little inconveniences they pose in the meantime and enjoy their benefits in years to come.

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Finally, we wanted to acknowledge the loss this week of a fixture in the area, Bob Clower, who with his wife, Sue, had operated Ocean Side Pizzeria in Fenwick since 1981. We featured the Clowers and their business just last week, ahead of the shop’s 30th anniversary on May 1. Tragically, Bob didn’t live to see that anniversary, but he will be long remembered for his presence in this community.

As with so many the area has lost, his legacy will be one filled with fond summer memories of friends and family, delicious food and fun.