April 04, 2023
Summer fun is officially one step closer, as a Jersey Shore resort town is welcoming visitors back to one of its main attractions.
Wildwood's boardwalk reopened for the season this week amid ongoing renovations that began nearly two years ago. Eighty percent of the boardwalk reconstruction from Maple Avenue to 26th Avenue is now complete as part of Phase II of the project.
The project seeks to renovate and rehabilitate sections of the boardwalk that are damaged from aging, weather and wear-and-tear from pedestrians. New concrete pillars, decking, handrails, access ramps and lighting will also be installed. Fred M. Schiavone Construction, Inc. of Franklinville, Gloucester County, is the contractor on the reconstruction.
While the boardwalk is open to pedestrians, there is some missing decking material that has been delayed by international lumber shipments. The contractor agreed to shorten the work zone to allow for the boards' April 3 opening, although some disruptions can still be expected.
“Temporary security fencing will be in place at various locations, and we ask that no one tamper with the fencing," Steven Mikulski, Wildwood's commissioner of public safety, said in a statement. "Please expect temporary disruptions until fully completed.”
A Facebook video posted by Wildwood Boardwalk shows off the brand new boards as they appeared on Monday.
The timely reopening was made possible in part by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy once again committing $4 million to the boardwalk work, the same amount he pledged in 2021. The U.S. Economic Development Administration also put $3.25 million toward construction, and $845,000 in local funds is being used as well.
“I am grateful for the support from the Governor for two years in a row," Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron said in a statement. "He recognized the importance of the Wildwood boardwalk as a revenue generator for not only the city, but also for state tourism.”
Back in July 2021, New Jersey originally allocated $4 million in funding for the long-needed boardwalk repairs. Byron and the Wildwood Commissioners sought support from the New Jersey government after the already-aging landmark was further damaged by an April 2020 storm that ravaged sections of the boardwalk's decking near the Convention Center.
Wildwood city officials at the time said the $4 million was just a fraction of what the project would cost. Their estimation was that the construction could need up to $60 million.
Construction began in October 2021 to address the boardwalk sections between Oak and Maple avenues. Work is ahead of schedule, according to Wildwood's deputy mayor Krista Fitzsimons, and the project will soon enter its third phase, with construction on the blocks between Schellenger and Spencer avenues to potentially begin in the fall of 2023.
The full renovation project is expected to take up to eight years as funding is made available. The project is also staggered by sections to ensure the boardwalk can stay open between May and October each year.
Wildwood's historic boardwalk was born as a 150-yard stretch of boards in the 1890s, and now features 38 blocks full of shops, water parks, eateries, entertainment and amusements.
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