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Erosion Delays Rebuilding of AC Boardwalk Section

Mon February 11, 2013 - Northeast Edition

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Erosion from Hurricane Sandy will delay the rebuilding of the Atlantic City Boardwalk along Absecon Inlet and likely increase the original $10 million project cost estimate, officials said Jan. 25.

After Sandy’s floodwaters receded, officials said the storm actually saved money because it swept away a portion of the dilapidated section of boardwalk along the inlet that had been inaccessible for years and already was slated for demolition.

Now, however, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must reassess the soil on the seafloor there to make sure it’s still stable, said Keith Watson, project manager of the agency’s Philadelphia office.

“With the churning of the ocean and washing away and redepositing of sand, it’s prudent for them to take new soil samples because composition might have changed and this whole seawall is dependent on a sturdy [base],’’ city Director of Planning & Development Keith Mills told The Press of Atlantic City. “Refocusing on that makes a lot of sense.’’

That project doesn’t have to be rebid because the Army Corps already has professionals contracted to perform such services as needed. Details of this particular job are under negotiation, Watson said.

Watson couldn’t say exactly when the reassessment would start, but he expects it to be wrapped up and related recommended changes implemented into the project design within three months. Nothing will happen until then, or possibly later, depending on how drastic the changes and related costs are, which Watson said he couldn’t estimate.

The plan is to build a seawall, likely topped with wooden decking to resemble the prior structure, between the inlet-area neighborhoods and the beach from Oriental Avenue to 100 ft. past Atlantic Avenue, as well as between Madison and Melrose avenues, where Oscar E. McClinton Waterfront Park is located, Watson said.

The newer boardwalk built landward of the sand extending from the lifeguard station at Caspian Avenue is in good condition and backs up to the street, much like the setup for the wooden walkway on the resort’s ocean side, where it also is protected by dunes and connects to a bulkhead.

Remains of that section’s old boardwalk over the water, however, remain in the water there. The city is planning a $650,000 removal this spring to make the beach more suitable for swimming, said Mills and city Engineer Bill England.

The seawall slated for the area between Oriental and Atlantic avenues and at McClinton Park will afford more protection than the prior boardwalk, which let water rush through its narrow supports. Made of stone and concrete, the seawall also will withstand weathering caused by the inlet’s particularly intense wind and tides better than the timber used to build the old walkway, officials have said.

The Army Corps also must pump about 1.1 million cu. yds. of sand ashore to make up for the storm’s erosion of beaches and dunes in Atlantic City and Ventnor, which underwent an $18 million, 1.4 million cu. yds. replenishment last summer, Army Corps spokesman Stephen Rochette said.

It could be misleading to use a prior rate as a basis for estimating the cost of the new work while the actual numbers are still being worked out, Rochette said.

The goal is to rebuild the beaches and dunes before Memorial Day, but Watson and Rochette couldn’t say when, exactly, work would need to begin to meet that deadline.

Atlantic City — as well as the rest of Absecon Island, Brigantine and the Cape May County coast — sustained far less damage than the badly devastated shore communities to the north. That destruction won’t affect available federal resources to address storm effects in federal project areas — including Atlantic City, Brigantine and Ventnor — because those projects were already planned, funded and under way before Sandy.

The Atlantic City project includes the inlet seawall, Watson said.

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