By Donald Wittkowski
At its last meeting in 2017, City Council is scheduled to award a nearly $8 million contract for a series of major drainage improvements designed to alleviate flooding in low-lying neighborhoods in the north end of town.
The project will include an overhaul of old drainage pipes and deteriorated roads in flood-prone areas between First and Eighth streets from West Avenue to the bay.
The plan includes three new pumping stations to flush storm water off the streets and into the bay. The pumping stations will be built along the bayfront at Second, Fifth and Sixth streets.
In addition to the pumping stations, the work will include raising and repaving the roads and replacing drainage pipes that, in some cases, are 40 to 60 years old.
City spokesman Doug Bergen noted that new “stronger, straighter” drainage pipes will be as important in the project as the pumping stations.
Council is expected to award a $7.9 million construction contract for the project during its meeting Thursday. The final meeting of 2017 will be held at 1 p.m., instead of Council’s normal time of 7 p.m.
Feriozzi Concrete Co., of Atlantic City, is in line for the contract. Feriozzi submitted the lowest bid among eight companies that sought the work, according to documents attached to the Council’s agenda.
The north end is the next part of town slated for drainage improvements as Mayor Jay Gillian and City Council continue with a comprehensive strategy to ease flooding in neighborhoods throughout the barrier island.
Barring any last-minute delays by Council in awarding the contract, construction will begin on the north end improvements early in the new year and take between 12 and 18 months to complete, Bergen said. No major work will be done during the bustling summer tourism season.
The contractor will begin by tearing up the streets to install new pipes. The streets will then be regraded and repaved, Bergen said.
Representatives of Michael Baker International LLC, the city’s flooding consultant, have said the project will handle the “nuisance level flooding” that plagues the north end neighborhoods during high tides and rainstorms. They stressed, though, that the drainage work and new pumping stations will not be enough to stop heavy flooding unleashed by major coastal storms, such as the nor’easter Jonas in 2016 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Michael Baker International redesigned the drainage project after one, large pumping station was originally proposed on Sixth Street. The large pumping station would have cost an estimated $20 million to $25 million, far more than what the city was willing to spend for the project.
During a community meeting with north end residents last August, the mayor said the new design for three smaller pumping stations will allow the city to build a flood-control project without “bankrupting us.”
First Ward Councilman Michael DeVlieger, who represents the north end of town, has raised the possibility of the city working with local marinas and homeowners to build new bulkheads or improve the existing ones as another way to fight bayfront flooding.
DeVlieger will hold a public meeting on Jan. 6 to give an update on capital projects in the First Ward. It is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Ocean City Free Public Library’s Chris Maloney Lecture Hall, 1735 Simpson Ave.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Council is scheduled to award a $318,725 contract to Atlantic City-based Hackney Concrete Inc. for streetscape improvements concentrated along the Asbury Avenue retail corridor in the downtown business district.
Decorative touches such as brick paver crosswalks will be added at the intersections of Asbury Avenue and Eighth Street and Asbury and 10th Street. New “French grey” concrete will replace the old sidewalk pavers along Asbury Avenue, according to a city memo describing the project.