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Senators examine progress of dredging and replenishment projects

Several weeks after the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening project began work off Broadkill Beach - a hill of dredged-up material is taking shape there.

That mountain will eventually become a 16 foot tall dune stretching along over 14,000 feet of shoreline - and a 100 foot wide, 8 foot tall berm that diminishes the damaging effects of storms and flooding.

The design - which could make Broadkill Beach six times as wide in some spots - will be kept intact by periodic nourishment and beach fill every five years as the 63 million dollar Army Corps of Engineers dredging project continues through 2054.  

Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons visited Broadkill Beach Friday to survey both projects.

Coons says he’s glad Delaware’s Congressional delegation could help secure federal funding needed to make them both a reality.

“In this case we helped literally move 2 million cubic yards of material to broaden and strengthen Broadkill Beach, to make a better path forward for the Delaware River and to create a stronger and brighter future for the Port of Wilmington and the people of Delaware.”

Broadkill Beach Preservation Association president Jim Bailey  says that will ensure his quaint unincorporated community remains intact - minus its unofficial tagline: "It's always high tide in Broadkill" -for future generations to enjoy its unique appeal.

“We don’t have lots of rules and regs – and it’s also the bug capital of the world. So it takes special people to come here; they either love it or they hate it. Me personally, I walked on this beach one day in March of 1980 and I never left.”

Not only is the US Army Corps utilizing environmentally-friendly beneficial reuse of the dredged material, but Commander of the USACE Philadelphia District Lt. Col. Mike Bliss says they're mindful of other ways their work may impact the ecosystem.

"Keeping that balance, and protecting our natural resources - the horseshoe crabs, the sandbar sharks and the blue crabs here - it's an example of where we're trying to accomplish infrastructure thing, but we're doing it in a way where we're environmental stewards to the great resources we have here."

To date, 25,000 cubic yards of material have been dumped on Broadkill as the dredging project increases the shipping channel depth between Philadelphia and the sea to to 45 feet.

Proponents say the dredging will allow the Port of Wilmington to better compete with other East Coast ports for foreign shipments headed here through the Panama Canal instead of crowded West Coast ports unable accommodate them.

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