Point Pleasant Beach Council awarded a contract to fix a section of boardwalk damaged in Tropical Storm Irene last year and authorized the municipal engineer to prepare bid specs for reconstruction of Sandy-battered sections of boardwalk.
The council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to award a contract to Albert Marine for $290,210 to fix the stretch of boardwalk in front of Lucky's Arcade. The section was still functional and did not have to be closed off.
Point Beach Business Administrator Christine Riehl said on Thursday afternoon, "We have not established a start date, but it will be sometime in December. Completion date as per the contract is March 29th, 2013."
Even with the damage caused by Irene and Sandy, there are still sections that do not need repair, so the renovations "will not be a contiguous project," Riehl said.
The town expects to be reimbursed for a significant portion of the cost of fixing the sections of boardwalk damaged by Irene and Sandy through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The town owns the boardwalk.
However, the town would still have to borrow to pay for the renovations and then apply for FEMA reimbursement, which is likely to not arrive anywhere from 10 to 12 months later, based on past experience.
And it could take a lot longer considering that FEMA is already getting flooded with phone calls and claims from multiple states impacted by Sandy.
Bid lower than expected for Irene-damaged section
Last month, council voted to borrow $565,000 towards repairing the Irene-damaged section of boardwalk. Bids came in lower than expected, said Municipal Engineer Raymond W. Savacool.
"The bids came in lower than my estimates, which I had based on the work done on the south end," he said, referring to replacement of the south end of the boardwalk that had also been badly damaged by Irene. That work was finished just before the summer began.
Savacool said there are "soft costs" beyond what will be paid to Albert Marine. That includes his fee of approximately $40,000, plus other fees, including that paid to bond counsel and the cost of advertising bid specifications, but that the total will still be considerably below the $565,000 originally anticipated.
Riehl said, "The engineer's estimate for the job was $411,000, construction only. The additional money bonded for was engineering, permitting, legal, advertising, and contingent. The Albert bid just happened to come in very low, good for us."
Irene was originally labeled a "hurricane," but was downgraded to a "tropical storm" when it made landfall.
Bigger Job to Fix Sandy's Mess
Regarding the larger boardwalk reconstruction project to fix Sandy's damage, Dan Friendly, an Ocean Avenue resident, said he would prefer to see "a natural wood boardwalk" instead of the Trex boardwalk that was used at the south end.
"The Trex just doesn't have the look and feel of a boardwalk," Friendly said. "On the south end, the Trex section came up, a section came through a house."
"Trex lasts," replied Councilmember William Mayer.
"But when Trex comes up, it comes up with a vengeance and it's more expensive," said Mayor Vincent Barrella.
Municipal Engineer Raymond W. Savacool said wood costs about $60 to $65 a piece and Trex costs about $100 a piece. However, he noted, the benefit of Trex is that it doesn't splinter like wood and there aren't nails popping up, all things that have caused injuries and sparked lawsuits.
After the meeting, Savacool said he did a damage assessment report based on the examination he did of the boardwalk and its foundation a few days after Sandy ripped through it. He said about 2,800 feet of the 5,200 feet of boardwalk was damaged by Sandy, but that there are sections of the boardwalk that are fine.
"But Trenton to Arnold is completely destroyed," he said.
Regarding the wood vs. Trex debate, Savacool said, "Trex is maintenance free. As wood boards age, they start to warp and become a tripping hazard."
So why did the south end Trex boardwalk, just installed before this summer, get damaged worse than some of the wood sections further north?
"There's a lot less beach at the south end," he explained. "There's more beach as you go towards the inlet."
He said Sandy pushed sand up into the boardwalk in front of Jenkinson's Aquarium, causing some damage there.
Since Sandy hit, the town has made significant progress cleaning up sand and debris on the roads and boardwalk. Crews hired by boardwalk businesses have been busy cleaning up, repainting and making other repairs to their properties.
Martell's front bar and grill areas are open, while Jenkinson's remains temporarily closed, but will re-open after finishing renovations.