SEA ISLE CITY – Imagine, the biggest storm since 1962 hits the county hard.
The streets turn into river rapids, leaving the mix of locals and vacationers with no choice but to evacuate.
Heading over the bridge to Avalon or Ocean City isn’t an option.
They are in the same desperate situation as the city.
Sea Isle Boulevard is the only route to the mainland, but most cars can’t made it through the high water and get stuck half way to Route 9, creating a traffic quagmire.
If only the boulevard were a little higher.
Come 2009, about half of the boulevard, from Route 9 to the bridge, will be raised about four to five feet with new drain pipes and a park-like area for fishermen, according to county Engineer Dale Foster.
Parsons, Brinkerhoff, Quaid, and Douglas drafted the initial conceptual design.
The project is currently working its way through the design phase and is close to final design.
According to Foster, the project is estimated to cost about $6-$7 million.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) in 2004 earmarked $1.6 million to raise the boulevard over the 100-year flood mark.
Overall, LoBiondo had secured $60 million in funds from the $275-billion highway and transit bill, that passed through the House of Representatives in April 2004, for southern Jersey highway improvement projects that will also include eliminating the parkway traffic lights, replacing part of the Route 52 causeway, replacing the Route 50 bridge over the Tuckahoe River, and intersection improvements to Route 30 and Pomona Road.
Sea Isle City Boulevard had been a concern of the city government for years.
“Years back, we received a small FEMA grant to look at the vulnerability of the barrier islands,” explained Foster.
The county used the grant to analyze all roads leading in and out of the county’s islands, in order to find ways to make them more usable in the event of a flood.
The general consensus was that Sea Isle City was the most in need.
“There’d really only be one way out of the city and it floods badly,” said Foster.
The project will be submitted to the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization for federal funding when it is closer to a start date.
“Projects are ranked based on how close they are to construction,” said Foster.
In other news: 13th to 22nd Street on Landis Avenue will be undergoing construction, starting during the last week of this month.
The weathered roads will be removed and resurfaced and the shoulders will be reconstructed along with some drain work.
The project will cost about $537,000, according to Foster.
It is expected to be completed by Memorial Day, May 29.
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