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Ocean City Moves Ahead on Projects to Improve Drainage, Roads

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An aerial view shows how the narrow West 17th Street neighborhood juts out into the bay. (Courtesy of YouTube)

By MADDY VITALE

Ocean City is quickly completing crucial parts of road and flood-mitigation projects before shutting them down for the busy summer season.

The projects include paving and pipe work on West 17th Street as well as the creation of a retaining wall in the area of a stormwater pumping station for the bayside neighborhood.

Separately, the city is completing concrete work for road and drainage project on Waterway Road before Memorial Day weekend. The overall project is scheduled to be finished by June.

“Memorial Day is fast approaching, contractors are finishing up infrastructure projects, and the city team is busy getting ready for the summer season,” Mayor Jay Gillian said in a statement Friday.

West 17th Street is an area of mostly upscale bayfront homes accessible by crossing a tiny bridge off Bay Avenue. The neighborhood, essentially a narrow island jutting out into the back bay, is vulnerable to tidal flooding because of its location and the low-lying topography.

In April, Gillian, Third Ward Councilman Jody Levchuk and other city officials met with residents of West 17th Street following complaints about the projects going on at once in the area, creating a “construction zone.”

Hoping to reduce the chronic flooding, Ocean City has started construction on a nearly $1.5 million project that will include a stormwater pumping station, new drainage and outfall pipes, elevating the road where possible, repaving and landscaping improvements.

Gillian assured the residents in April that the city will fix the problems in the area.

“Pipe work is complete for the neighborhood flood mitigation project at West 17th Street,” Gillian said in the statement Friday.

Mayor Jay Gillian, left, speaks with West 17th Street homeowner Warren Dardine about the project in April.

The centerpiece of the project is the pumping station to clear flooding from the neighborhood much faster than waiting for the water to recede by itself back into the bay. Ocean City has been installing pumping stations throughout the island in recent years to fight flooding.

Gillian said in his statement that concrete for a small retaining wall around the island where the pumping station is located on West 17th Street was expected to be poured on Monday and a water meter for irrigation has been installed.

“This work comes in advance of planting mature trees, sod and dune grass to help hide electrical equipment and restore landscape to the area,” Gillian said. “Temporary paving of the street is complete, and the project will resume after Labor Day.”

During the meeting in April with neighbors, Levchuk had also assured the residents that the work would get done.

“We want to do the best job we can for you,” Levchuk said then.

Separately, the New Jersey American Water company is undertaking a $3 million modernization of its water and sewer system on West 17th Street. The current water and sewer system dates to the 1950s.

As part of the New Jersey American Water project, the company is building a wastewater pumping station that dominates the entryway into West 17th Street.

The large pumping station includes stairs leading up to metal boxes that contain the control panels.

In addition to work by the city to improve West 17th Street, Gillian said that “concrete work for the road and drainage project on Waterway Road will be complete by Memorial Day, and the project remains on schedule to be finished in June.”

He also addressed construction taking place in the Merion Park neighborhood.

Gillian said that New Jersey American Water “has completed upgrades to service lines in Merion Park in advance of our flood mitigation project that will begin in the fall.”

Flood mitigation work will begin in Merion Park in the fall.