By MADDY VITALE
A two-year sewer line reconstruction project that left parts of Bay Avenue in shambles and drew strong objections from Ocean City officials will finally wrap up in May, according to the agency overseeing the project.
During construction of the roughly $8.5 million project by the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority motorists had to endure torn up streets, lane restrictions and detours on a heavily traveled stretch of Bay Avenue from Eighth Street to 31st Street.
MUA Wastewater Program Manager Josh Palombo explained some of the benefits of the project in an interview Thursday.
“There are two brand new sewer force mains that handle roughly 80 percent of the sewage flow from the town,” he noted. “Right now, there are just punch-list items left to do, just surface level things. There is no more digging needed.”
The city put out a statement Thursday about the Bay Avenue project. “The rough areas of temporary pavement in the vicinity of 14th Street were milled and repaved this week, the area around 20th Street will be repaved on Friday, April 2,” the statement said.
Final paving over the entire project length is scheduled for May. For now, Bay Avenue will be open to two lanes of traffic until final paving begins.
As the project dragged on since it began in September of 2019, frustrations grew and city officials expressed concerns.
Most recently, Mayor Jay Gillian and Councilman Jody Levchuk remarked about the project.
In a statement on March 26, Gillian voiced his concerns over the time it has taken to do the project in the highly trafficked area of Bay Avenue.
“Like anybody who travels Bay Avenue, I am extremely frustrated by the condition of the roadway, particularly in the area of 14th Street,” he said.
The mayor continued, “This is a county project, and the Cape May County Municipal Utility Authority has assured the city that the contractor will complete temporary repairs to the rough road surface in the area from 14th Street to 20th Street by the end of next week. Final paving of the entire project area from 8th Street to 31st Street will take place around May 1.”
During the March 25 City Council meeting, Councilman Jody Levchuk called the project “the mess on Bay Avenue.”
He added that he had received complaints from the public, especially regarding the area under construction between 13th and 14th Streets.
“I’m out of explanations to give,” Levchuk said during the Council meeting.
Palombo explained that the MUA is also eager to complete the work and that the workers need to wait for settlement on the roads before final paving is done.
“The settlement is required by the county,” he said. “Otherwise, the pothole problems keep coming back.”
They were paving in the area of 14th Street on Thursday and 20th Street is scheduled on Friday, Palombo detailed.
He also said he is aware of concerns by city officials and the public.
“I can understand why there is frustration. There have been parts of the road that haven’t been ideal,” Palombo said. “But I think we have done our very best in remedying any problems that have been brought to our attention throughout the project.”