OCEAN CITY – The first phase of Ocean City’s Boardwalk reconstruction was officially completed last week in plenty of time for the summer season.
“It went very well,” City Engineer Terry McGean said. “We finished ahead of schedule and under budget, so that’s always two good things.”
The last board was nailed down last Thursday, April 19, at precisely 10 a.m. on 15th Street. Phase I included reconstruction from 27th Street to 15th Street as well as the Inlet to Somerset Street.
The first phase began in early October with the demolition of the old decking and substructure replacement from north of 27th Street working south. Phase I also included replacing the section of the promenade around the pier heading north to Somerset Street. The ramp section between South First Street and the Ocean City Lifesaving Museum was fully reconstructed to meet ADA requirements.
McGean said the weather over the winter season helped speed construction work.
“Especially in February and March, we had much nicer weather than we normally get and we were able to take advantage of that,” he said.
Phase II is scheduled to take off on Oct. 7 and is estimated to be completed by the end of April 2013. It includes the full reconstruction of North Division Street to 15th Street, moving south to north.
McGean has faith that Phase II will go as well as the first phase, but he acknowledged it is weather dependent along with a couple of other “wrinkles” this time around.
“We have an extra two blocks and additional retaining walls,” he said. “The idea was that we did the slightly easier one first so we could learn some lessons and figure out what works and what didn’t work.”
The city will be meeting with the private contractor, RBCI, who carried out the work, to have a debriefing on Phase I to discuss “lessons learned and ways to speed things up.”
“We learned lessons on the old one and applied those to the new one, and got a good use out of it,” McGean said. “Everybody seems very happy with it.”
Comparing the old Boardwalk to the new, McGean said the new design is much stronger and can withhold much more vehicular traffic, in the case of a parade or public safety.
“It’s virtually an unlimited amount of weight you can put on it now,’ he said. “We will be able to take fire trucks the full length of the Boardwalk, which couldn’t be done in the past.”
Also, the new design is more aesthetically pleasing and less maintenance is needed.
“The train lane is now delineated with boards instead of the stripes so we don’t have to paint it anymore, and the way the boards go down it will be easier to replace,” McGean said.
McGean added that the efficient process of Phase I couldn’t have been done without the cooperation of Boardwalk property owners because the construction could have been disruptive for them.
“The nice side was we had all the good weather to work with but the flip side to that was we had more people staying in hotels and businesses opening earlier so the disruption was a little bit more intense then it would have been if the weather had been a little bit colder,” he said. “But everybody worked well with us so overall I think everybody realized the result was worth the little bit of pain you have to go through.”
Mayor Rick Meehan agreed that the nice weather moved the project along during Phase I.
“It looks great, and they did an excellent job,” the mayor said. “Now we have to get Phase II under our belt next year and we will be good to go for a number of years.”