WILDWOOD – When you stroll along the boardwalk, take a moment to glance down toward the boards.
Nearly 100 years of history lies beneath your feet and there is no denying that it is showing its age.
“It (the boardwalk) is in desperate need of repair,” said Lou Ferrara, the city’s development director.
Groundbreaking on a $20-million restoration project is scheduled for July 7.
The project has already received nearly $4 million in grants through the Urban Enterprise Zone and federal funding.
Ferrara said the high price tag could be attributed to the cost of replacing the utilities.
“It won’t just be a new look. It will have a whole new infrastructure,” he explained.
That new look that is expected to replace the southern pine boards is forestry certified Brazilian hardwood.
Mayor Ernie Troiano, Jr. had said that he had looked at a number of options, including plastic, before deciding on the hardwood.
A new infrastructure combined with the strength of new boards, will allow the boardwalk to withstand greater emergency vehicle use.
“Police, fire, and EMT vehicles will be able to get on the boardwalk easier, and maneuver underneath the boardwalk,” noted Ferrara.
The boardwalk also received a CAFRA permit to stretch out 20 feet in some sections. Ferrara likened the current situation to going from a crowded three-lane highway to a two-lane highway.
“We had bottlenecking up there,” he said. “It was like a funnel.”
In order to combat the standstill foot traffic that can easily occur Friday and Saturday nights in the summer, certain sections of the boardwalk will be widened to be consistent with other portions.
The expansion will also afford more room for tramcars.
The city has considered a pneumatic trash system that operates like a vacuum cleaner and will suck garbage from cans and through pipes underneath the boards. The item is expensive, and whether it comes to fruition will depend on future funding.
Ferrara said the restoration would be put out to bid in three portions: the Cedar Avenue extension, decking 1,000 feet of the boardwalk, and a tunnel, similar to that at the convention center, at Schellenger Avenue.
Construction is expected to begin in the fall, but Ferrara said that all depends on how the bids come in. He said the city is going to be careful not to disrupt boardwalk businesse.
“One of the reasons we divided up the project into three sections was so we could start one portion without tearing up the whole boardwalk,” he said. “We don’t want to close any businesses.”
Contact Huggins at: (609) 886-8600 ext. 25 or email@example.com
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