Cape Gazette

Broadkill Beach work could begin this September

Replenishment sand will come from channel project
By Ron MacArthur | Mar 14, 2014
Photo by: Ron MacArthur Work has been ongoing by state crews to fill in eroded spots along the Broadkill Beach shoreline. Sand is being trucked in.

Broadkill Beach — A long-awaited project to replenish Broadkill Beach could begin as early as this September with more than $70 million in the coffers for the work. The sand will be pumped ashore as part of the ongoing Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project.

A total of $55 million has been appropriated in the federal budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 with another $18 million set aside for the project by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.

Bids for the project are expected to be advertised this month, said Ed Voigt, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Work can't begin until September with a 19-month window for completion,” he said.

About 16 million cubic yards of sand will be pumped to rebuild Broadkill Beach from the deepening project's 15 most southern miles. When finished, the 102-mile Delaware Bay/River channel will be deepened to 45 feet.

Last summer, no bids were received for work to rebuild the community's beachfront that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Wind and waves eroded as much as 15 feet of the duneline and damaged houses along a three-mile stretch of shoreline. In many areas of Broadkill Beach the protective dune is gone.

The last replenishment project in Broadkill Beach, in 2005, was part of a 50-year plan to maintain the beach. As a stop-gap effort this winter, sand has been trucked in as part of a Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control project to fill in weak spots in the dunes and beach.

Voigt said the Army Corps is more optimistic that bids will be received this time around, even though similar work is scheduled to take place along the New Jersey and New York shorelines. He said the amount of funding available and the expanded time allowance to complete the work should make the project more viable. The contractor will have from this September until April 2016 to complete the work.

The project will rebuild the beach to a 100-foot wide berm with a 16-foot dune along nearly a three-mile stretch along the bay. Voigt said the beach project follows the same plan used to replenish Atlantic beaches from Fenwick Island to Rehoboth Beach following Hurricane Sandy.

The expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015 is expected to greatly increase shipping traffic along the East Coast, one of the major reasons for the channel deepening project, according to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. Increased cargo traffic will bring vessels that are larger, with deeper drafts, to ports in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project serves Philadelphia and many other public and private maritime facilities along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.


Broadkill Beach homes along the Delaware Bay shoreline are vulnerable to storms, as this photograph taken last October clearly illustrates. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
A bulldozer works atop a large pile of sand dumped on Broadkill Beach. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
A truck hauls sand in front of houses along the Broadkill Beach duneline. There isn't much beach left in front of the Delaware Bay community. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Gregg W Rosner | Mar 16, 2014 08:09

Anytime coastal regions need this degree of antho-engineering, a surrender flag should be raised and a long-term sustainability/retreat plan should be implemented. Just a reminder that large scale sand replenishments, groins, and sea walls are short term remediations in highly vulnerable and rapidly changing ecosystems.

Sand has no substantive protective value if not part and parcel of a natural sand-sharing system, with primary and secondary dune systems, which can grow stabilizing vegetation and mitigate erosion and coastal migration. Having built homes on this critical area (even new homes recently built), unfortunately future storm surges will negate this major expenditure, and the community will be back to square zero.

I know people live there, and these homes are primary investments for many, but the taxpayer cost/benefit ratio is questionable at best.

The lessons from Superstorm Sandy, forgotten, so quickly. This remediation directly contrasts the very national public policy of DNREC Secretary O'Mara, who is cognizant of sea level rise issues and professes leadership and innovative solutions to current and future coastal liabilities.

Posted by: Gregg W Rosner | Mar 18, 2014 10:10

Different replenishment designs need to be actualized. Innovative science and new technology such as incorporating geotubes for coastal stabilization should be the topic of discussion in DNREC offices, not just dumping sand again and again. The breakwalls in Lewes harbor have provided stabilization, but change the ecosystem, with sand accretion requiring periodic dredging. There is a major design difference between protection of a open harbor and dynamic coastal beaches.

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