One-Block Boardwalk Project Comes In Under Budget

OCEAN CITY — What was projected to cost at least six figures, has seemingly come in well under budget as the town of Ocean City prepares for the first part of what may end up being some major changes to the town’s famous Boardwalk.

On Monday night, the Ocean City Council received nine bids for the project to replace the decking on the Boardwalk from 12th-13th streets, which reportedly will be closed to the public in early January until April while the job is being completed, according to Public Works Director Hal Adkins.

Of the nine bids received, two were thrown out due to failure to meet the specifications of the bid requirements and of the remaining seven bidders, a local company from Berlin secured the apparent low bid of $69,493, which the council unanimously voted through on Monday night.

“I had some initial concerns when the number was first read into the record because I fully expected this project to be at least six figures,” said Adkins on Tuesday, “but I’ve been informed that as of right now, the bid from Kade Construction in Berlin appears to be in order and it looks like they will be getting the contract to re-deck the 12th and 13th streets deck of the Boardwalk.”

Adkins said that the crews would be rerouting any pedestrian traffic on the 12th and 13th streets section of the Boardwalk, “down the side-street on 12th and forcing them to cut across the alleyway and then simply walk back up to the street on the other side of the job site.”

Town officials will be keeping an eye on this project for a number of reasons and not just because it is a job being done to its most notable landmark.

Town officials told The Dispatch last week that once the decking is removed between 12th and 13th streets, they plan to analyze the infrastructure of the Boardwalk itself, which is entirely made up of wooden whalers, stringers and pilings.

Town officials said last week that they expect to find some deteriorating infrastructure under the Boardwalk, which could force them to replace the entirety of the Boardwalk in a massive three-phase project that could start as early as 2012.

In addition, and perhaps in anticipation of planning for the major project down the road, City Manager Dennis Dare informed the Mayor and City Council this week that some alternative decking materials would be used and installed in this 12th and 13th streets project, as a test for what materials should be included in the plans for the aforementioned major project years away.

“We have two different treatments of boards, and then we also have three different styles of this material that is essentially plastic lumber,” said City Engineer Terry McGean. “We went out to the open market and told companies that carry these boards what we were planning and they have essentially given us sample pieces of these different types of boards, and we plan to install them and see what works best.”

Much of the Boardwalk is made of Southern Yellow Pine wood and hasn’t been attended to other than a few minor board replacements since 1985, according to McGean, who explained why the alternative materials are being considered for the future.

“Basically, what they are doing in these Scandinavian countries is taking dense Southern Yellow Pine like what we have and extracting its natural moisture and then injecting it with a substance that is derived from vegetable oil,” said McGean. “It makes the wood extremely hard and very durable.”

Adkins said that when the boards are installed between 12th and 13th streets, the approximately 40 boards per brand or style will look “like stripes on a candy cane so we will see how these particular boards hold up and let them essentially compete side by side to one another.”

As the town evaluates what is underneath the Boardwalk as far as the infrastructure goes, they will also be monitoring closely the alternative sample boards that will make up the new decking on 12th and 13th streets.