OCEAN CITY — A major re-decking of the Ocean City Boardwalk is moving along and on target for an April completion.
The complete re-decking of the Boardwalk has been on the town’s radar for the last couple of years and has been a regular fixture in the capital improvement plan (CIP), a blueprint of sorts on when to schedule and fund major projects. After a couple of pandemic-related setbacks involving the availability of lumber and materials, the project began in earnest in October.
The first phase, which is ongoing now, started on the north end of the Boardwalk and is running from 27th to 15th streets. The first phase also includes the section from the Ocean City Lifesaving Station Museum to the fishing pier as well as a re-decking of the Boardwalk at Sunset Park. City Engineer Terry McGean said this week the Boardwalk re-decking project is on time and on budget.
“The Boardwalk re-decking is coming along well,” he said. “They are on schedule for April completion. They are moving off the Boardwalk to Sunset Park this week to give the seawall coating contractor time to get well ahead.”
According to McGean, the steel interior portion of the seawall under the cement cap is being recoated because of saltwater erosion over time and the project is also ongoing. The seawall contractor has to stay ahead of the re-decking contractor in order for the two projects to synthesize and keep moving, which is why the re-decking work is shifting to Sunset Park.
The second phase of the Boardwalk re-decking project scheduled for next offseason will finish the overall project from 15th Street south to the fishing pier. That work is tentatively scheduled to begin next fall right after Columbus Day and be completed by April 2023.
The entire cost of the two-phase Boardwalk re-decking project is around $2.2 million, which is spread over two years in the town’s CIP. There are also some pier franchise lease funds totaling $100,000 in each year dedicated to the Boardwalk re-decking project.
For safety reasons, the town is asking that visitors and residents do not enter the portions of the Boardwalk under construction and observe the detoured areas, during which work is underway. The Boardwalk remains fully open on weekends and holidays during the re-decking project.
The wooden sections of the Boardwalk were last replaced entirely in 2010 and 2011 with a life expectancy of 10 years, which put the project right in that window for replacement now. The urgency for the project first surfaced during strategic planning sessions over two years ago and it was identified as a priority in the capital improvement plan.
The pandemic caused the cost and availability of lumber to soar, placing the re-decking project briefly on the back-burner. With lumber mills shutting down during COVID, and a high demand for treated lumber during the recent housing boom, the initial bids came in at roughly twice what was budgeted. The shortage has eased somewhat, and the town has been able to procure the necessary materials.
There has been talk over the years of replacing the Boardwalk with some other, more durable and long-lasting material, but resort officials have said often there is no substitute for the genuine article. Plastic or concrete options were explored for cost and durability reasons, but in the end, it was determined the public would not sit still for anything other than southern yellow pine from a traditional standpoint and that is what is being used for the replacement.