County Contractor Preparing to Replace Pipes as Flood Relief Project Continues

By Gina G. Scala | Oct 02, 2019

Ship Bottom — Slow and steady wins the race. Still, there is slow and then there is government slow. It’s the latter that West 28th Street residents in Ship Bottom have been up against for years as much-needed solutions in one of the most flood-prone areas of the borough have been sluggish in arriving.

Some of the solutions were implemented last year. Others, such as a pump station expected to help flood waters recede more quickly, haven’t yet materialized. The reason is simple: Other work had to be completed before a pump station can be installed or the project will do nothing more than recirculate flood waters back into the bay and onto borough roads.

Mayor William Huelsenbeck said the county awarded a contract to replace terracotta pipes too late for the work to be completed before summer, and borough officials didn’t want the roads being dug up during the busy summer season.

“The contractor is waiting for gas lines to be moved,” Huelsenbeck said, adding all the moving parts seem to be coming together.

The borough’s end of the deal, replacing the bulkhead near the fishing pier where a portion of Ship Bottom Avenue and Central Avenue intersect, is also “good to go,” he said.

Ship Bottom officials awarded a $135,690 bulkhead replacement contract for the work in August to Albert Marine Construction, a Waretown-based company that has worked with Long Beach Township, the state Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard. The project to replace the existing bulkhead is funded through the 2019 budget line item, capital improvement-bulkhead, and a portion of Ordinance 2019-09. The ordinance, adopted earlier this year, is expected to foot 90 percent of the projected cost of a borough-wide bulkhead program. Under the measure, bonds cover $190,000 of an estimated $200,000 price tag. The approximate life of new bulkheads is 15 years, according to the ordinance.

“You’re still going to have water,” Huelsenbeck said during the borough council’s meeting last month.

In 2018, the Ocean County Road Department raised the crown of the Boulevard, a county-maintained road, from 24th Street in Ship Bottom to 33rd Street in neighboring Long Beach Township, in an effort to stem flooding on the Island’s main thoroughfare. Depending on the area of the roadway, the crown was raised between 6 and 8 inches in an effort to alleviate flooding in the center turn lane, allowing one lane of water-free – or almost water-free – driving during a tidal or storm event.

Then the borough undertook two bulkhead replacement projects, one at the municipal boat ramp, located to the south of the Causeway at the entrance to the Island, and the other at the end of West 28th Street. Those projects were done to help ease flooding throughout the borough and to ensure all new or replaced bulkheads meet the 5-foot height requirement put in place in 2018.

In addition to those projects, the county replaced the washed-out berm at the end of Central Avenue where it intersects with West 28th Street. That project required approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection. That area has historically been one of the most flood-prone in the borough. It’s also one of the most heavily trafficked areas on LBI, funneling all the traffic to the south end of the Island without the benefit of a secondary ocean road for use during flood events.

“There is so much red tape,” the mayor said. “We’re at the end of the roll.”

His comments were in response to Angela Trampota, a West 28th Street resident who attended the meeting to inquire about a project update. Her most recent concern stems from a day not so long ago when water swept through the flex valve at the end of her street on a picture-perfect sunny September day, and flooded the area to the point of being impassable.

“I know you’re doing what you can,” Trampota said, “but there is still water boiling up.”

Huelsenbeck acknowledged the recent flooding, citing excessive high-water levels with the king tide that swept through the area right around Labor Day weekend.

— Gina G. Scala

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