By Maddy Vitale
After seven years of a multi-phase Boardwalk reconstruction project in Ocean City, the waiting is over.
A pristine walkway from Fifth to 12th streets of fresh new boards, new ramps, new pavilions, trash containers and benches, will be enjoyed by tourists and residents in the $10 million project.
The final phase of the project cost $2.9 million and included the new surface and substructure from 10th to 12th streets.
It was completed by Friday and despite brisk winds, runners and strollers enjoyed the new promenade.
“The Boardwalk is smooth sailing,” Carlo DeFeo, a carpenter and foreman from Fred M. Schiavone Construction Inc., of Malaga, said. “It is all done. We are in good shape.”
DeFeo continued, “Everything is ready to roll.”
He pointed to a new pavilion at 11th Street he and his crew built.
The Boardwalk reconstruction project was a multi-year project. The recent storms were not much of a factor in the completion of the final phase, DeFeo remarked.
“The weather was not a problem. It didn’t cause any real delays,” he said.
Officials commented in January that they were on schedule and the project may be completed early.
Mayor Jay Gillian made special mention of the Boardwalk project in his State of the City address on Feb. 22
“The beach and Boardwalk are essential assets to anybody who owns property or runs a business in Ocean City. They are part of what defines ‘America’s Greatest Family Resort’,” Gillian said.
The mayor continued, “I’m happy to report that a seven-year project to completely rebuild the Boardwalk between Fifth Street and 12th Street will be finished two years early and under budget.”
The stretch at the heart of the Boardwalk, was constructed after a devastating 1927 fire, Gillian noted. “The new Boardwalk will serve generations to come.”
In his address, the mayor thanked Walters Marine and Schiavone Construction and his project management team who worked hard to complete a quality job.
Roger Rinck, the manager of engineering and construction for the City’s Engineering Division, oversaw the project.
One of the ways the city was able to finish the project early was how the workers installed the Boardwalk.
It was assembled off site in a way that was more efficient and provided a better product because workers didn’t have to worry about the elements and other variables, Rinck said in an interview in January.
While boardwalk businesses have dealt with inconveniences due to the project, the beautification of the Boardwalk officials say will be a showpiece for tourists and residents and help businesses.
The Boardwalk spans 2 ½ miles long from St. James Place to 23rd Street. It was first built in 1880. In 1927 a fire destroyed it and it was rebuilt that same year and moved about a block.
“Originally the Boardwalks were designed where you could walk across it and get sand off your shoes, so you didn’t track sand into the hotels,” said historian John Loeper, president of the Ocean City Historical Museum. “The Ocean City Boardwalk was originally a concrete foundation, but it was deteriorating severely. The way they do it now is the way to go. Concrete does not hold up.”
Later, the Boardwalk evolved to become a hub of entertainment with amusement parks, arcades, shopping, dining and people watching.
“Boardwalks were the place to see and be seen,” Loeper said. “It was the promenade by the sea.”
Boardwalks are unique Loeper added, “There aren’t too many. We take them for granted because we live at the Jersey Shore.”