After significant beach erosion from winter storms again this year, the shoreline in Bethany Beach could use a little TLC. And it's about to get just that, as the scheduled renourishment project for the town's beach is set to get under way this coming week.
Originally set to start around May 15, the project is just a few days behind that timeline, now set to officially begin before the Memorial Day weekend arrives, sometime between May 20 and 25, and to still be completed within 28 days.
“Replenishment is on track to begin by the end of next week,” Bethany Beach Town Manager Cliff Graviet told the Coastal Point mid-week. “They are continuing to mobilize and deliver equipment.”
Graviet said the parking lot at Oceanview Parkway will be closed intermittently during the course of replenishment, as it is being used by the dredging company to stage the equipment and access the beach.
Once again, the work involves dredging sand from offshore borrow areas, pumping it through a series of pipes onto the beach, and then grading it into a dune and berm template designed to reduce potential storm damages to infrastructure, businesses and homes.
The two “hopper dredges” will work in tandem, first supplying sand 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 moving to the north, and then south from the 3rd/4th Street area to the midpoint of the town's 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 the south.
“To assure the project is completed as quickly as possible, construction is scheduled 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Graviet confirmed.
During construction, a 1,000-linear-foot portion of the beach will be closed at all times. The closure will be a “rolling” closure, and move as the repair and replenishment work is completed. It is estimated that 200 feet of beach will be repaired and restored every 24 hours.
The 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. But because the optimum time to plant dune grass is after the first frost, dune grass isn't scheduled to be planted until late 2018.
The timing of the project and the beach closures is somewhat less than desirable, as the area heads into the vital summer season, but officials have emphasized that the availability of the dredges was a key factor in determining when the work could take place. The bulk of the town's beaches will remain open and accessible at any one time during the course of the month-long project.
“Any concerns the Town might have regarding the schedule for replenishment and its possible impact on the Town are overridden by how pleased and fortunate the Town is to once again have its protective beach and dune restored,” Graviet had said when the timeline was announced earlier this spring.
Graviet acknowledged that the work will have an impact on the Town's weekly movies on the beach and bonfires. He said the movies will be shown on the bandstand at times when the beach is not accessible, and the bonfires will also be moved as needed during construction.
“Those impacts are minimal compared to the impact of having no beach in Bethany this summer, or a dune to prevent the kind of damage that any significant nor'easter or hurricane might have on the community,” he had said.
Changes and updates, along with aerial photos/video of the project, will be available on the Town's website and will be updated continually during the project, Graviet said. Anyone with comments, questions or concerns can contact the Town Manager's Office at email@example.com or (302) 537-3771.
Once the dredges complete their work in Bethany Beach, they're scheduled to move directly to South Bethany for the renourishment work there, followed by work in Fenwick Island that is slated to start in mid-July.
S. Atlantic Streetscape nears completion
On a side note, completion of the S. Atlantic Avenue Streetscape project is running slightly behind schedule as well. Graviet said there was a few days' delay due to problems at the plant that produces the permeable pavement being used in the project. He said mid-week that he expected the paving work to resume before the end of the week, weather permitting. It was originally scheduled to be completed by May 15.
The project involves creating a multi-use pedestrian and bike path, built from porous pavement, on the south side of Cedarwood Street and on the east side of South Atlantic Avenue to Hollywood Street, separating pedestrians and cyclists from the vehicular traffic on the roadway. It also includes repaving the entire right-of-way.
For daily lists of streets impacted by the project, including closures, visit the Town's website at http://townofbethanybeach.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=504.
By M. Patricia Titus