Construction crews are restoring Brigantine’s seawall, a favorite spot for sunbathers and morning joggers, after it sustained damage during Hurricane Sandy.
“We’ve all seen the videos of water splashing over top the sea wall,” said City Engineer Ed Stinson. “You have to think about how much damage was prevented by that sea wall as opposed to how much damage it took.”
Stinson said wave action caused sections of the promenade, which was erected in the mid-1990s on the city’s north end, to settle. That led to cracked concrete and rusted rebar, in addition to mangled railings and ramps that were uprooted from their piers.
But while the sea wall took the destructive blunt force of the waves, most of the homes directly behind it sustained minor flooding.
Evidence of its effectiveness, Stinson said, are what happened to the areas at either end of the wall. Several homes on either end were ravaged and a lifeguard shack at the south end was torn from its pilings and rolled onto Brigantine Avenue.
Beach access at the seawall, which is located on a county right-of-way between Seventh and 14th streets north, remained open last summer because of temporary repairs made by Atlantic County Public Works crews, albeit with a portion cordoned off for safety.
County Executive Dennis Levinson said that north end is now substantially complete, but the contractor still has work to do on railings and stairs. Light poles whose wiring has corroded from exposure to salt water must also be replaced, he said. The entire project cost the county about $570,000.
Part of the reason for the delay, Levinson said, was the labyrinthine claims process that followed Sandy, in addition to the normal design and bidding procedures of a project of this size.
“It did take some time to get through the red tape, but we have assurances it’ll be reimbursed 90 percent,” he said.
Levinson said the entire project is expected to be complete by Memorial Day, with the light poles probably being the last item to be completed.
“I’m certain the people of Brigantine and visitors will be very pleased when it’s completed,” he said.
Some of them already are.
Lily Lebowski, 65, said she usually walks the length of the seawall with her Jack Russell terrier Max. She walked him out on the beach Wednesday morning, instead, with yellow rain slickers to protect them both from drizzling rain.
Their normal route has been detoured for a long time due to portions of the seawall being closed off, but Lebowski is happy to see progress.
“I prefer the concrete because it’s easier on my feet but I suppose that’s a minor inconvenience, isn’t it?” She said. “Like the weather.”
Brigantine has received several inquiries about the sea wall’s memorial benches, which were also destroyed during Sandy. Officials say repairs to the sea wall itself has taken priority in the wake of the storm.
City Manager Jennifer Blumenthal said Brigantine is compiling a list of the benches and is currently seeking funding for at least one bench on its own.
“We’re trying to figure out another way to have memorials for those who are unable to purchase another bench,” she said.
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