Project To Reduce WOC Community Flooding Underway

SNOW HILL – Officials are hopeful a nature-based resiliency project will reduce flooding in a West Ocean City community.

On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners voted 6-0 to hire a Virginia company to handle design work of what’s being called the Selsey Road Resiliency Project in West Ocean City. The project aims to reduce flooding and flood damage in the area.

“It’s a nature based design to protect that community with the high tide and the flooding experienced,” said Bob Mitchell, the county’s director of environmental programs.

In September, the commissioners entered into a $50,000 grant agreement with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the design of a shoreline stabilization and marsh restoration project for Selsey Road. In the past, several acres of privately owned beach north of the road provided flood protection, according to Mitchell. In recent years the beach has eroded, leading to more frequent flooding during storm events.

The commissioners voted on Tuesday to use the grant funding to hire Coastline Design, an Achilles, Va., company, to design the project. Mitchell reported that Coastline Design was selected from a group of bidders after proposals were scored and reviewed by county officials and DNR staff.

Mitchell indicated the Selsey Road project would be a demonstration project for the state and would garner additional interest and support from DNR throughout design as well as construction.

“The state, they want to do more nature based designs other than bulkheading and riprap on the shoreline,” Mitchell “They want to do where we have plants, we have dunes, we have salt marshes created.”

Though the Selsey Road project will involve 7,000 cubic feet of sand being used to bolster the shoreline, Mitchell said that if for some reason officials learned that would be ineffective, more traditional practices–such as riprap—would be used instead.

“We’re going to go with nature first and maybe fall back to a hard position later on,’ Mitchell said.

He pointed out that the proposal being approved this week was just for the design of the project. He expects construction, which will come with a seven-figure price tag, to take place next year.

Commissioner Jim Bunting asked whether the proposed soft shoreline would be more expensive than the traditional methods used in the past.

“I’m very familiar with this area and I doubt any soft shoreline is going to stay there,” he said.

Mitchell said either option would exceed $1 million.

The commissioners voted 6-0, with Commissioner Diana Purnell absent, to award the project to Coastline Design for $43,603.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.