Three Delaware beaches will receive more sand starting mid-May, as part of a federal renourishment project to combat erosion and help them fare better against future storms.
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock, the contractor for the projects, will renourish a stretch of Bethany Beach starting later this month, before they dredge sand for South Bethany and Fenwick Island in June and July. They'll pull sand from the bottom of the ocean and pump it onto the three beaches.
They are expected to wrap up work between mid to late July.
Though the projects were initially slated to be completed last year, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Ed Voigt says they got delayed because of a limited availability of equipment.
“When it comes to the beach work, there are only two contractors that regularly bid on our beach renourishment jobs. There aren’t that many that have the capability in terms of equipment that’s big enough that has the capacity and a variety of other factors.”
Voigt says residents and tourists will hear construction noise on the beaches. The corps will only be closing 1,000 feet at a time per job so people can still enjoy most of the beach.
Delaware Public Media reached out to a couple of businesses for comment, but did not hear from them by the time of publication. In February, Amy Vickers, the owner of Seaside Country Store in Fenwick Island, said she understands the need for renourishment, but has mixed feelings on the timeline.
Voigt said whenever the Army Corps of Engineers works on a project during summer, they hear similar opinions.
“The consensus is ‘gee we wish you didn’t have to do it in summer, but we know these projects are important’,” Voigt said.
In 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers conducted post-Hurricane Sandy restoration projects for Rehoboth and Dewey Beach between summer and fall and renourished Bethany and South Bethany in August and September. Fenwick Island was given more sand in July and August.
Summer work also happened in 2009, when crews completed initial construction work at Bethany and South Bethany.
The three beaches getting renourishment this summer are part of a $19 million contract.
In addition to the dredging operation, contractors will also work to repair and build dune crossovers. They’ll likely plant dune grass to help stabilize the shoreline in late 2018.
Updated on Tuesday, May 1 after receiving a timeline from the USACE on past renourishment projects that have happened in the summer months.