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DelDOT looks to curb constant flooding on Route 1 between Dewey Beach and Fenwick Island


Delaware’s Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is conducting a Route 1 Coastal Corridor Resiliency Study.

One of the study’s top priorities is looking at possible improvements for the highway between Dewey Beach and Fenwick Island.

DelDOT’s Director of Transportation Resilience and Sustainability Jim Pappas says the Route 1 corridor between those two beach towns is a critical highway for Sussex County - and the state.

"Our Division has started a planning study to kind of ensure its resiliency against weather events, storm events and sunny-day flooding that we see along that corridor for the long-term," he said. "Short-term we can keep the road open, but we’re looking many years out with this study.” 

Pappas says DelDOT expects to hold public comment sessions sometime this winter on what the study found and any potential plans.

He says DelDOT is working with a consultant and ideas being floated include building sea walls down the 14- to 16-mile stretch of Route 1 between Dewey and the Maryland line in Fenwick Island,

“Our long-term solution could look something like - if you’re familiar with Route 54 there in Sussex County - rewind about 10 to 15 years ago and that road flooded quite often. And what we ended up doing was basically building a causeway - or an elevated roadway - that’s about 10 to 12 feet higher than the existing roadway to make sure it’s high and dry,” he said.

Pappas notes, like Route 54, Route 1 is an evacuation route for residents during nor’easters or hurricanes so they need to avoid flooding.

He adds that the study is also working to determine which sections face the most risk. For example, the section from the Town of Dewey south to the Indian River Inlet Bridge has no buffers and water on both sides - the Bay and the Ocean.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.