Beach replenishment work continues on in Bethany

Dredging stage well under way, State to repair dunes later

Date Published: 
January 13, 2012

Beach replenishment work in Bethany Beach under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is once again under way, using federal dollars to pump sand onto the beach, where it is to be moved by state workers as needed to restore the beach and dune after major damage sustained in the November 2009 “Nor’Ida” storm and subsequent degradation.

The project is to be a full restoration of the town’s reconstructed beach, as was originally engineered and constructed in 2008 and restored again in 2009. Those plans include restoring the controversial full height of the dune, which some have complained limits or eliminates the view of the beach from the boardwalk.

Bethany officials reported that, as of this week, the beach replenishment project’s dredging work had been completed south of Third Street and was moving northward, with the estimated completion date for the pumping portion in Bethany Beach being Jan. 30.

Beach closures in the area of the work have been put in place throughout the project, keeping onlookers and wintertime beachgoers from getting too close to tractors, pipes, an elevation tripod and various other equipment being used in the restoration.

When work is under way, the dredging pipes bring a slurry of seawater and sand onto the beach from a dredging site a few miles offshore, depositing the replenishment material back on the beach. From there, it is moved by the tractors to enlarge the beachhead, and to later be used to rebuild the damaged dunes.

The dredging contractor, Great Lakes Dock & Dredge, had been working in Bethany for 48 days as of Jan. 13, and depending on weather and equipment repair needs, has been averaging approximately one block completed every three to five days.

Approximately 450,000 cubic yards of sand had been pumped as of Jan. 6. Beach width in replenished areas, officials said, is coming in at roughly 150 to 200 feet from the seaward toe of the dune.

State workers are expected to will follow the replenishment portion of the project with dune reconstruction and ramp construction, using existing sand and state funding. An extra foot of sand is being placed on the beach for that purpose, town officials said.

The dredging and beach reconstruction aspects of the project have been separated in order to apply federal monies to the dredging portion of the project and thereby make more efficient use of the total funding for the project through use of state workers and equipment to complete the reconstruction.

Reconstruction of the handicapped ramp at Ocean View Parkway is scheduled to begin on Jan. 31, officials said this week.

Town Manager Cliff Graviet has previously emphasized that the only alternative offered to the same dune height was a shallower but wider dune that would have reduced the beach’s width and provided essentially the same view.

After the completion of the initial reconstruction project in 2008, some had asked whether a 2-foot reduction in the dune height might be permitted. Town officials have since praised the project for how well it has protected the boardwalk and private property during severe storms, but some townsfolk remain opposed to the height of the new dune.

The amount of sand that will be put on the beach will exceed the amount from the original reconstruction project, Graviet has previously said.

Town officials also recently partially answered the question that has been on the minds of many since the summer, noting that three large ships seen off the town’s coast are reportedly not involved in the beach reconstruction project, as some had assumed.

However, they said, they were unable to get a concrete answer from official sources as to why the ships were anchored off the Delaware shore. Mayor Tony McClenny said town officials had been told the ships may have been waiting for fuel and/or commodity prices to change before heading out to their eventual destinations.