OCEAN CITY — Due to a nationwide shortage of treated lumber because of COVID-19, the first phase of the major re-decking project on the Boardwalk planned to begin this offseason has been pushed back a year.
Roughly every eight to 10 years, Ocean City’s wooden Boardwalk is completely replaced. The first phase was to begin this fall and be completed by the start of next season and the second phase was planned for the offseason in 2021.
However, City Engineer Terry McGean told the Mayor and Council on Tuesday he was recommending pushing the first phase back to next offseason and the second phase the following year.
“Most of you know our plan was to start re-decking the Boardwalk this offseason,” he said. “During our final preparations to solicit bids for the project, we made some phone calls and learned even if the suppliers could get the lumber at all, it would likely be twice the price. It’s a combination of the mills shutting down because of COVID and the high demand for lumber.”
McGean explained the supply of treated wood has been all but exhausted. Along with mills shutting down this spring, complicating the situation was many who were forced to stay at home during the pandemic decided to undertake home improvement projects such as building new decks or replacing existing ones. Because of the shortage of wood and the skyrocketing cost even if it could be found, McGean recommended pushing the project back a year.
“The shortage is not expected to ease until late this fall, which is too long of a delay if we expect to complete any significant work before May 2021,” he said. “Although it is not ideal, we’re recommending postponing the project until the 2021 offseason.”
McGean said the normal repairs to the Boardwalk would go on as they do each offseason and asked for an increase in that budget.
“The good news is, because the tram did not run this summer, there was less wear and tear on the Boardwalk,” he said. “I’m requesting an increase in the annual Boardwalk repair budget from $60,000 to $80,000. That will allow us to make temporary repairs to hold us over until we can begin the re-decking project.”
The council voted unanimously to postpone the first phase of the Boardwalk re-decking project to the offseason next year and agreed to supplement the Boardwalk repair budget by $20,000.