Friday, September 12 – Soft Shoreline Eyed For City Roadway

failing bulkhead along a curvy section of Robin Drive in Ocean City
could result in a new soft shoreline in the area complete with native plants,
marsh and stone rip-rap, officials learned this week.

The existing timber
bulkhead along westbound Robin
Drive where it takes a sharp turn has failed and
either needs to be replaced with an expensive alternative or possibly a state
grant-funded, more ecological alternative. The 600-foot section of bulkhead is
beyond repair and replacing it with a new vinyl one could cost the town over
$200,000, City Engineer Terry McGean told the Mayor and Council on Tuesday.

Instead of going that
route, McGean has approached the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
about a Shoreline Erosion Loan, which is the same program the town used to
repair a similar situation recently at South Ocean Drive. The DNR program
provides no interest loans for a period of 20 years, but a new state policy
calls for providing the loans for “soft” shoreline protection projects and not
traditional bulkheads.

For that reason, McGean
on Tuesday asked the council to embrace the idea of a soft shoreline for the
600-foot section along Robin Drive
and approve an application for the DNR’s shore erosion loan program. McGean
explained the canal in front of the bulkhead in question is between 120-150
feet wide with an average depth of two feet.

There are no boat slips
on either side of the canal, meaning the area is not currently in the town’s
canal dredge program. However, there are boat slips at the west end of the
canal and the bulkhead in that area would have to be replaced to prevent
impacts on the adjacent boat slips.

However, McGean
explained the section of failing bulkhead is a perfect candidate for the
state’s shoreline protection loan program.

“DNR is willing to
consider the loan provided that the new shore line uses soft shoreline
protection,” he said. “In this case, that would consist of replacing the
bulkhead with a combination of planted marsh and rip-rap. The marsh would
extend into the canal no more than 40 feet.”

Of course, the town
would not be good neighbors if they did not first discuss the proposed soft
shoreline with neighboring property owners, particularly Jolly Roger’s, which
owns the waterfront on the adjacent side of the canal. McGean said he
approached the Jolly Roger’s owners with the plan and they are no averse to the

“They have a substantial
amount of bulkhead of their own that has fallen into disrepair,” he said.
“They’re trying to do 100 feet a year.”

The council embraced the
idea of a soft shoreline for the section along Robin Drive and approved the loan

“Aesthetically and
financially, it looks like a great idea,” said Councilwoman Nancy Howard.