A portion of bulkhead at the Indian River Inlet in the Delaware Seashore State Park is off limits indefinitely. And some people are unhappy about it.
DNREC and The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are restricting access to a 120-foot section of the bulkhead. The walkway nearby experienced some erosion and started to collapse last year - forcing it to be temporarily cordoned off.
“But the area’s gotten worse this year. So, we’ve had to put up a chain link fence to restrict access just for safety reasons,”
said Steve Rochette with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District office.
He says the Army Corps conducted hydrographic surveys of the site and is using boats to see what’s happening underwater, “So what we’re seeing from initial findings, is that there’s a partial slope collapse there below the water line.”
He says the likely cause is a deep hole created by tidal activity in the area. Rochette adds the Army Corps is also coordinating with DNREC to examine drainage issues at the location.
Rochette notes people, including fishermen, can access either side of the closed-off area.
But Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commissioner Bruce Mears is upset after being told the Corps doesn’t have the funds to repair the area immediately.
“I think the disappointing thing is the Corps can randomly pull out $12 to $20 million for what I call property protection - which is beach replenishment," said Mears. "Indian River Inlet is not only gorgeous, it’s the gem of Eastern Sussex County and it’s an inexpensive place where everybody can go to the beach.”
The Army Corps says a long-term fix depends on funding availability and the feasibility of solutions to stabilize the section of shoreline.