Grant May Ease Flooding Near Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge
Water creeps up to the edge of Prime Hook Road near Milford, Del. (Photo: WBOC)
MILFORD, Del.- A federal grant may help ease flooding problems near Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex County.
The money will cover new culverts on Prime Hook Road; culverts are pipes that allow water to pass under the pavement. Water frequently creeps up to the edge of the road and neighbors said flooding is an ongoing problem.
"It's a good, common sense, needed project," said homeowner Rick Allan.
The $640,000 Public Lands Highway grant will replace and expand eight culverts along the road with box culverts, said DelDOT spokesman Geoff Sundstrom in an email. The grant is one of three awarded to the First State in August as part of bayshore improvement initiatives.
"It should help protect the road from further disintegration and alleviates some of the flooding," said Allan.
The two-lane road is the only route into the Prime Hook community, which includes over 100 homes. While neighbors call the move a positive step, some worry it is not a long term solution.
"They could add 10, 20, 30 culverts under that and it's not going to solve the problem," said homeowner John Chirtea.
Chirtea said the problem is dune breaches created nearly six years in nearby Fowler Beach. The breaches allow massive amounts of water to fill the marshes, which then flood the neighboring road. The state has tried numerous times to patch the breaches.
"Focus on getting those breaches fixed," Chirtea said. "That's my message. Fix the breaches."
While new culverts will not repair the breaches, Sundstrom said the project would reduce costly repairs to the road. DelDOT has repeatedly patched and paved the road following major storms.
"One commitment we made to the community was working with the delegation to secure funds to improve the only public access point to Prime Hook," said Gov. Jack Markell in a statement. "While there's much work to do, this team effort hopefully will make things better and give some relief to Prime Hook residents."
Sundstrom noted the project will not guarantee access to the community during major storms since the culverts will not raise the height of the road.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supported DelDOT's grant application. In a January 2012 letter, project leader Michael Stroeh wrote the new culverts would benefit wetlands management for the refuge by improving the movement of water and the growing conditions for salt marsh vegetation.
With the grant awarded, the design can begin any day though it's unclear when the project will begin, Sundstrom said.
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:19 AM EDT2013-05-18 14:19:20 GMT
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