Atlantic City seeks flood protections including seawalls and drainage improvements
Constructing new seawalls and bulkheads to protect Atlantic City is part of an estimated $238 million in projects being sought to repair and shore up the city’s infrastructure, officials say.
The idea would be to build a barrier to help keep tidal surge and floodwater from penetrating unprotected areas of the city as they did during Hurricane Sandy.
“The only way to protect the city from that is to have a continuous barrier,” said Keith Mills, the city’s planning and development director, who participated in developing project estimates.
Including $75 million in Sandy damage estimates, the final price tag would be $313 million, city and Tourism District officials said.
While some of the projects already have funding — about $18 million — the rest is contingent on federal aid, said Kim Butler, a spokeswoman for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which also helped formulate the estimates.
Officials in New Jersey — which assessed overall Sandy damage at $37 billion — as well as those in New York and Connecticut, are waiting for Congress to authorize $60 billion in storm disaster aid. The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider the spending package Jan. 15.
Some of the Atlantic City storm mitigation projects have been in the planning stages for years, such as a seawall slated for a construction start this year in the South Inlet, from Oriental to Atlantic avenues, at a cost of about $11 million. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received bids for the project but not yet opened them, Butler said.
But while that section was considered a priority before Sandy, other shore protections proposed for the Northeast Inlet — such as between Madison and Melrose avenues — had been under discussion but due to a lack of funding did not proceed beyond the concept stage, officials said.
Now, with the possibility of Sandy funding, those projects may receive more attention, particularly because the Army Corps would already be doing work in the South Inlet and at one time had talked about combining all of the inlet projects into one, Mills said.
“Since they are going to be here, they had wanted to tie into it,” he said of the corps.
The cost, including construction of new bulkheads, would total about $50 million, according to a report city and CRDA officials put together.
Other projects seen as priorities include an upgrade to the Baltic Avenue stormwater canal, which drains about a third of the city, Mills said.
“Floodgates at both ends are inoperable,” he said. “People have been working on that for a few years.”
The city had plans in place for repairs with limited funding prior to Sandy, Mills said.
Another priority for city officials is the intersection of West End and Albany avenues, which is part of a coastal evacuation route but suffers from frequent flooding. Repairs are estimated at $105 million and would be contingent on the Sandy federal aid package, Mills said.
City officials also have been told that to qualify for aid, they will be asked to funnel their request through county officials, who would then relay it to state officials. The state would then submit the requests to federal authorities for approval.
“There’s a number of towns along the Jersey coast that got damaged,” Mills said, adding that process requires the city to line up support for its projects. “We’ve mobilized our coalition to seek the funding.”
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