Featured Project: Long Beach Boardwalk Restoration
After a year-long coordinated effort by LiRo's Engineering team, contractor Grace Industries LLC, and City officials, the Long Beach Boardwalk was officially opened to the public on Friday, October 25th. Although the opening ceremony was planned specifically for the Boardwalk, it had greater significance as a symbol of the dramatic recovery efforts undertaken by the Long Beach community during the previous year.
The boardwalk, which extends 2.2 miles along the shore line, is an integral part of the history of Long Beach. First constructed in 1914, with the assistance of elephants utilized as part of a publicity stunt to advertise the new beach community, the original wood frame structure was destroyed during the 1938 hurricane. A new boardwalk, with a concrete supporting structure, was completed in 1940. The wood used in that deck had an average lifespan of three to five years, and required frequent replacement to maintain the deck integrity.
In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy inflicted severe damage upon the decking, superstructure, access ramps and lighting. The concrete supporting substructure was relatively untouched. The City of Long Beach initiated a Beachfront Infrastructure Restoration Program immediately following the storm. Phase I of the program provided for the removal of the damaged boardwalk components and the reconstruction of a more resilient structure. LiRo performed a detailed fast-track damage assessment, developed alternative repair strategies, and prepared construction documents for the repair of the boardwalk. The scope included replacement of all wood support framing and decking as well as for new railing systems and lighting fixtures for the boardwalk and access ramps from the streets to the beach. LiRo supported the City and coordinated the community outreach efforts to present these alternatives to the public. The feedback from this community engagement was used to determine the final scope of the work.
LiRo continued as Construction Managers for the fast paced reconstruction work, which began in May 2013 and extended through the fall. The City established a goal of opening the boardwalk to public use as quickly as possible, to maintain the summer season. As construction progressed, each completed section of the boardwalk was opened to enable Long Beach residents to enjoy some use during the summer months.
Several resiliency features to protect the boardwalk against future storm damage were incorporated into the new design. A continuous vinyl/fiberglass sheet wall under the boardwalk faces the waterside edge of the decking, thereby serving as a wave-break wall and minimizing future storm surges from being trapped under the decking and eliminating blow outs of the boardwalk deck. The sheet wall also acts as a levee offering the community additional protection from future storm surges.
The new deck is composed of a combination of sustainable tropical hardwood and textured concrete plank, placed above a durable precast superstructure. This system offers a 30-40 year lifespan, a significant improvement from the durability of the original deck, and eliminates many longstanding maintenance issues. The planks at the center of the boardwalk were set in a direction parallel to the beach to provide a wider, smoother bike path, while the planks at the perimeters are set in a diagonal direction to delineate distinct walking lanes. Concrete planks were installed in perimeter areas throughout the central section of the boardwalk, to provide a more durable surface for heavier traffic and for booth setup during special events.
The pre-storm boardwalk contained 743 benches, most of which hold memorial plaques installed by their donors. The benches have been salvaged and restored, and will be placed as close to their original locations as possible. A new aluminum pipe handrail extends on both sides of the boardwalk and continues along the 26 pedestrian access ramps. Energy efficient LED light fixtures enhance the area. Phase II of the Beachfront Infrastructure Restoration Program will include the installation of comfort and life guard stations, concessions, additional seating areas, and other amenities.
The reconstructed boardwalk was officially opened on October 25, 2013, in an exuberant ceremony attended by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Senator Charles Schumer, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Long Beach officials, and hundreds of local residents. The overall sentiment was effectively summarized by Senator Schumer, who declared that "the boardwalk – the great symbol of Long Beach – is back again. Bigger. Better. Stronger and more storm resilient than ever."