$170M Delaware Project to Protect, Rebuild Beaches

Tue December 30, 2003 - National Edition

REHOBOTH BEACH, DE (AP) A 50-year, $170-million federal and state project will preserve an eroded stretch of Delaware beach battered repeatedly in recent months by northeast winds and seas.

A 2.6-mi. section of shoreline between northernmost Rehoboth Beach and the southern border of Dewey Beach will be rebuilt and protected under the project, with the Army Corps of Engineers paying 65 percent of the costs for developing protective dunes and wider beaches.

Officials said construction could begin next fall.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, the beach is about a 2-1/2 or 3 right now,” said Rehoboth Beach Mayor Samuel Cooper. “It’s one of those situations where you can see hulks of jetties that only come up with really bad conditions.”

Because of recent erosion, a major storm this winter could increase the risk of damage to boardwalks and inland properties, Cooper said.

“We lost a lot of beach last year, and seeing what shape it’s in this year, it would be good to get it replenished,” said Jerry Seling, owner of Dewey Beach Surf and Sport. “Some of the surfers may disagree – they think it hurts. But down the line it’s going to be a help.”

Last month, congress approved more than $5.7 million in federal aid for the first phase of the project. Initial work will deposit 1.4 million cu. yds. of sand – about 140,000 truckloads – in front of the two communities. That will cost about $15.9 million. Plans call for adding another 277,000 cu. yds. of sand every three years.

Rehoboth Beach’s restored shoreline would measure about 290 ft., including 125 ft. of sand in front of the dune. About 360 ft. of beach is planned in Dewey, including 150 ft. at the edge of the ocean.

Rehoboth Beach, by comparison, this year offered only about 60 ft. of sand between the water and the Boardwalk.