NEW FOR THURSDAY: Federal Funding Announced For Fenwick Beach Pumping

FENWICK ISLAND — Fenwick Island officials last week announced the federal Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract for a vast beach replenishment project to repair the damage caused during Hurricane Sandy last fall and other coastal storms throughout the winter and early spring.

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract to repair and restore the beaches in Fenwick and other coastal resort towns in Delaware to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock. With the contract awarded last week, a notice to proceed is expected to be issued at any time and a construction schedule will be released. With Fenwick and other Delaware beaches in the height of their seasons, the beach replenishment and restoration projects will likely be scheduled after Labor Day.

During the project, roughly 389,000 cubic yards of sand will be pumped onto the beach in Fenwick from offshore borrow sources and spread over about 6,500 feet of shoreline. The dunes ravaged during Sandy last October and other storms last winter and early spring will also be restored to their pre-storm conditions.

Fenwick’s beach replenishment project will coincide with similar restoration efforts in neighboring South Bethany and Bethany Beach, along with Dewey Beach, Rehoboth and Lewes. In South Bethany and Bethany Beach, roughly 476,000 cubic yards of sand will be pumped onto the beaches from offshore sources, while Dewey and Rehoboth will get a combined 455,000 cubic yards.

Overall, from New York to Virginia, the Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of placing over 26 million cubic yards of sand along the coastline in resort areas ravaged by Sandy last fall. The intent is to repair and restore coastal storm risk projects previously built by the Corps that were severely impacted by Sandy. While replenishment projects are slated up and down the mid-Atlantic area, the bulk of the 26 million cubic yards scheduled to be pumped onto the beaches, or roughly 23 million cubic yards, will be placed in New York and New Jersey, which bore the brunt of the storm.

Much of the work in those areas has already started. It is being accomplished through a number of contracts with sand being obtained from different sources including navigation channels and offshore borrow areas. While the exact costs for the Fenwick Island and Delaware projects is not known because of overlapping contracts, the entire short-term beach replenishment projects from New York to Virginia comes with an estimated $600 million price tag, all of which will be federally funded. According to Army Corps of Engineers Brigadier General Kent Savre, it is money well spent.

“The primary purpose of coastal restoration projects is to reduce risk,” he said. “Strong interagency and intergovernmental teamwork is critical to meet the challenges that face us. Together with our partners, we are developing, maintaining and applying the best national and regional expertise in science and engineering to restore and enhance the resilience of our coastlines.”

Meanwhile, Ocean City’s beaches will also undergo a major replenishment project with help from the federal Army Corps of Engineers. In April, the Army Corps released a pre-solicitation notice for an extensive emergency renourishment project that will ultimately pump a million cubic yards of sand onto Ocean City beaches.

Almost immediately after Sandy passed, Army Corps of Engineers officials arrived in Ocean City to assess the damage and began to make determinations about what action would be needed to restore the damaged beaches. Over five months later, the Army Corps in April released a pre-solicitation notice to begin soliciting bids for an extensive replenishment project.

The contract will also include the reconstruction or repair of the vast dune system that stretches from the northern end of the Boardwalk to the Delaware line. Also included in the future contract is providing and planting of dune grass and providing and installing rope fencing.

The eventual contract duration will be approximately 210 days from start to finish and the wide cost range for the project is estimated at anywhere from $10 million to $25 million. The timetable for the project remains uncertain, but Ocean City’s beach replenishment project will certainly begin sometime after Labor Day.

The plan is to coordinate Ocean City’s emergency replenishment project needed to repair the damages from Hurricane Sandy with the resort’s normally scheduled beach replenishment project this fall. The Ocean City beach is routinely replenished every four years with periodic emergency projects needed. The next regularly scheduled replenishment project is set for 2014, but the plan is to coordinate the upcoming emergency project with the regular replenishment schedule, essentially killing two birds with one stone. Beach replenishment began in Ocean City in 1994 through a 50-year agreement with the town, Worcester County and the state of Maryland partnering with the federal Army Corps of Engineers, which provides over 50 percent of the funding for the massive undertaking.

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