Construction begins on Prime Hook bridge project
Officials and Prime Hook Beach residents gathered Monday for the groundbreaking of a new bridge and road improvements at the refuge. Over the next five months, crews will construct a $1.4 million bridge crossing a channel currently being developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.
DelDOT’s chief bridge engineer Barry Benton says the collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will improve the refuge and public access to wildlife recreation.
“We’re going to end up with a sustainable refuge that our families can enjoy for generations and also we’re going to be able to provide better access for this community," said Benton.
The bridge and channel are expected to lower water levels and reduce flooding along Prime Hook Road - which is often forced to close during strong storms. Over the past decade, coastal storms damaged dunes protecting the refuge - causing saltwater to enter and worsen flooding in the area.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s project leader Al Rizzo says the overall project will help heal the refuge.
“Ultimately this will restore the resiliency to 3,000 acres of marsh that have been damaged over the last decade by a series of nor’easters and superstorms," said Rizzo. "And we hope once we’re finished that mother nature will take over and she’ll bless us with that wonderfully resilient marsh again.”
The marsh restoration project at Prime Hook is one of the largest seen along the East Coast -- and is part of a $38 million plan to reduce the impacts of storm and sea level rise on the refuge.
While bridge construction is underway, a temporary road has been built next to Prime Hook Road.