ATLANTIC CITY — Vehicle traffic has caused structural damage to older sections of the Boardwalk that may cost as much as $50 million to fix, Mayor Frank Gilliam said.
“A lot of it is in disrepair because construction vehicles have been allowed to drive on the Boardwalk,” said Gilliam. “The joists underneath have rotted out — they have not been looked at in over 30 years.”
So the city has moved to restrict vehicle traffic to emergency vehicles and will install concrete barriers at street-end ramps to the boards, Councilman Aaron Randolph said.
Lisa Ryan, spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Affairs, which oversees the city’s municipal operations, said a structural engineer has conducted “an initial review of the Atlantic City Boardwalk and deemed it structurally sound and safe for foot traffic.”
The sections at issue are the older, oceanfront sections, from about New Jersey Avenue south to Ventnor — not the new sections recently completed from Ocean Resort Casino through part of the Inlet.
Ryan said the city and state are considering conducting a complete examination of the Boardwalk in the future.
The city hopes to make repairs in part with leftover federal Hurricane Sandy funds the DCA has yet to allocate, said Gilliam at a recent meeting of the Chelsea Neighborhood Association.
Delivery trucks for businesses along the Boardwalk are being kept off the boards as much as possible, Ryan said, and the Police Department is using smaller, lighter vehicles for Boardwalk patrols.
Ryan said commercial trucks have ended up on the boards, after being directed there by GPS units, causing damage.
Letter writers have told The Press about seeing trucks allowed to use the Boardwalk.
“We recently watched fully loaded trucks cross at Texas Avenue for the airshow that almost caved in the Boardwalk,” wrote Robert Friedenberg, a letter writer from Galloway Township, in September.
In September 2017, an 18,000-pound 18-wheeler tractor trailer drove onto the Boardwalk at Albany Avenue in Atlantic City and traveled more than 2½ miles before getting stuck on the Ventnor Boardwalk.
The driver couldn’t find a ramp wide enough to exit, police said at the time. The driver was cited for driving an unauthorized vehicle on the Boardwalk.
Ventnor police Chief Douglas Biagi said the driver, of Dallas, was not drunk and no one was injured in the incident. He said there was no obvious structural damage to the Boardwalk, but it would need to be inspected by an engineer.
Also in 2017, a small building-supply truck got onto the Boardwalk in Atlantic City and ended up at Washington Avenue in Ventnor. That driver was also cited, according to officials.
Gilliam called renovation of the Boardwalk a “herculean task.” He is seeking financial help from some of the tens of millions in unspent federal disaster assistance funding for recovery from Sandy, saying the city did not get its fair share of that funding to raise and renovate homes.
“We realize that we can’t have the entire $50 million at once, but we’re looking at phasing it in. We had an engineer look at the most problematic areas to start first,” Gilliam said.
He is also hoping some of that funding can be used to replace crumbling bulkheads on the bay side of the city.