Bumpy rides along Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City could soon become a thing of the past as the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has agreed to fund repaving of the roadway.
Work is expected to begin as early as this fall.
CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri said the authority expects it will take $3 million to $4 million to completely repave Pacific, the main thoroughfare through the city. Authority engineers are working on specifications and expect to be ready to seek bids on the project within the next two or three months.
Officials initially looked at beginning construction quickly, but news that the Miss America Pageant would return in September coupled within the already busy summer season has led the authority to target October for a possible construction start.
That leaves a small time frame for crews to work before the weather turns too cold, but it should also create the least amount of disruption during the heavy tourist season, officials said. The project will also require cooperation and various approvals from the city, which owns Pacific Avenue.
“There was some effort on our part and the city’s (part) to identify state monies — transportation improvement funds that the state gets. It would have taken a long time, I think, to get it in the queue,” Palmieri said. “So we’ve agreed to do the job.”
That will include milling, paving and taking care of some of the “geometric issues” the road faces, Palmieri said, referring to some of the especially uneven surfaces at intersections. Not all of that can be fixed easily, as some of the unevenness is attributed to utilities buried beneath the roadway.
“When people call us and say, ‘You’ve got to level that,’ well ... that might be an issue,” Palmieri said.
It’s not yet clear which sections of the roadway will be tackled first, but the process will almost certainly continue into 2014. The authority will likely have a window between October and November for the paving, although if the weather is warm that could extend longer.
The bumpiness of Pacific Avenue has been noted by both visitors and residents in recent years. Pacific Avenue paving was among the concerns raised by residents in community meetings with CRDA officials prior to the adoption of the Tourism District Master Plan last year.
The bumps are more than a nuisance; they can also significantly contribute to wear and tear on vehicles, Atlantic City Jitney Association President Tom Woodruff said.
As the fleet of jitneys is banged around on Pacific Avenue, the association has found that ball joints on the jitneys have to be replaced prematurely, at about 25,000 or 30,000 miles, rather than the recommended 60,000.
“It’s pretty much doubled the maintenance on 190 vehicles. That gets expensive,” Woodruff said.
Portions of Pacific Avenue have been repaved over the years, including the area in front of Caesars and Bally’s about five years ago. Woodruff said the change seen in those portions is noticeable, and jitney passengers often comment on the difference.
“It’s like you can see how nice it could be if they could do the whole thing,” Woodruff said.
Palmieri said he drives Pacific Avenue often and wouldn’t characterize its condition as terrible. Still, he said, the authority recognizes that improvements need to be made.
“If you’re in the city — a busy city — just drive a little slower,” he said. “If you drive at 40 miles an hour, yeah, you’ll get banged around.”
The city will have to sign off on any improvement plans.
City Engineer William England did not return calls Monday seeking information on the paving.
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