OCEAN CITY — The second phase of a two-year Boardwalk reconstruction project got underway in earnest this week with a large section in the area of N. Division and First streets already torn up and the old surface underneath being excavated.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office">
Last year, the project’s first phase included a section from the north terminus at 27th Street to 15th Street, along with another section between the Inlet and Somerset Street.
The second phase will finish the entire Boardwalk reconstruction from Somerset Street to 15th Street. Just as in the first phase, the second phase includes removing the old wooden decking and making major repairs to the aging substructure underneath. When that work is completed, the wooden deck will be replaced with new boards laid down in an attractive pattern that also identifies the Boardwalk tram lane.
Work began this week at N. Division Street as crews removed the decking and began excavating the sand around the old wooden beams below that support the famous promenade. The depth of the excavation and the exposed wooden substructure appeared to be in sharp contrast to the same work done in the first phase last year, but City Engineer Terry McGean explained the second phase is not much different than the first.
“It’s pretty much the same as last year, but we’re going a little farther this time around,” he said. “In terms of the depth of the excavation and the age of the beams below, there are some sections where the substructure was constructed differently using different materials over the years.”
Work began this week in the area of N. Division Street in the heart of the heavily used downtown section of the Boardwalk, but McGean said that was by design. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic in that area has the option to use the concrete-paved area immediately to the east of the old wooden Boardwalk.
“One of the reasons we started on the lower end is because we have a built-in detour with the concrete section and we didn’t want to disrupt business any more than we have to in that area,” he said. “We wanted to get that section done early, because if we started to the north, we would essentially cut the Boardwalk in half.”
McGean said despite the heavier traffic in that area this time of year, compared to the north end of the second phase, it was advantageous to get that section done because of the concrete section adjacent to it.
“Starting down there will allow us to get that area done without causing too much disruption to those businesses in that area,” he said. “We wanted to get that out of the way now instead of waiting to the end and worrying about getting into next spring and not having it done. The foot traffic down there will still have access to the businesses in the area and we’re hoping to minimize disruptions as much as we can.
McGean said there would be no disruption for fall events planned on the Boardwalk including the corvette parade this weekend, the Making Strides Walk on Oct. 20 and other special events. The second phase of the project is targeted for an April 2013 completion date. Also in the plans for next spring is the new comfort station and performing arts stage at Caroline Street.
“If everything goes according to plan, we should be wrapping up next April,” he said.