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Boardwalk Demolition Expected to Be Emotional

Removal of the 2.2-mile structure scheduled to take a month.

The post-Sandy scene at Neptune Boulevard boardwalk on Thursday. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
The post-Sandy scene at Neptune Boulevard boardwalk on Thursday. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
Story by Jeff Lipton.

Saturday is expected to be an emotional day for many residents as contractors begin demolition of the landmark Long Beach boardwalk that was battered during Hurricane Sandy.

The city’s public works department will block off all entryways to the demolished boardwalk, barring residents from entering the construction site, said city spokesman Gordon Tepper.

“It is important for our residents to know that it is a construction site and not safe for someone to go on the boardwalk at all,” Tepper said.

Police officers will also be stationed around the construction site to prevent any trespassing, Tepper said.

While work crews started to dismantle the boardwalk Thursday morning, a demolition ceremony is set for Saturady at 11 a.m. at Grand Boulevard, as dignitaries and residents have been invited to attend in a proper sendoff to the 2.2-mile structure.

“The ceremony will be very emotional to many people,” said Tepper, a lifelong resident of Long Beach. “There are a ton of memories on that boardwalk. That’s why the theme is ‘Saying good-bye to an old friend.’

“It’s been a great part of our lives as long as we can remember,” he added.

City officials said the removal of the entire boardwalk will take 30 days and Thomas Novelli Contracting of Farmingdale has been awarded the $1.4 million job.

The city will store the 722 memorial benches, only a handful of which failed to survive the storm surge. The goal is to put the benches back in the same place once a new boardwalk is built. The city will replace those benches that did not make it through Sandy, said Tepper.

The entire boardwalk restoration project is expected to cost about $25 million, which the city said will be picked up by FEMA and the remainder by insurance.

City officials said they hope the new boardwalk will be ready in time for the summer season.

City Councilman John McLaughlin has suggested rebuilding a new boardwalk with stamped concrete, which is more durable and can be designed to resemble wood.

“I have always felt a stamped concrete boardwalk is the way to go,” McLaughlin said. “You can stamp any design you want to make it look like wood and you can color it the same. One of the great things about it is that it’s made of recycled materials.”

McLaughlin said the stamped concrete boardwalk would have a 70-year lifespan without much maintenance.

“When I first suggested it to people, they thought I was crazy,” he said. “But if you take a look at what happened in the Rockaways, the concrete portion is the only thing that survived. Of course, there will be some who will complain that it doesn’t give and we’ll have to look at the alternatives. This decision will not just affect us, but it will affect the next generation.”
Eddie January 04, 2013 at 05:56 PM
...............................Goodness Rhonda, you are pretty obsessed in coming 60 miles from home to plug a very complex, hugely expensive, unconventional and untested composite system of replacement boardwalk. Why? I've been a civil engineer for 30 years and your zeal and resolve is rather suspect. ...............................In my experience, a layman outsider's enthusiasm for a specific product is usually indirectly proportional to its technical value and directionally proportional to their potential personal gains. ...............................This is Long Beach, and we are very weary of having untested, high priced, newfangled junk exchanged for our hard earned tax dollars. ...............................Your HCB truss may be a great answer to 60-foot railroad spans, but seemingly overkill for a boardwalk with 15-foot spans that are effectively carried by 4 x 12 timber.
Nancy January 04, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Rhonda is a NON profit who is just giving an option..she is not gaining anything here as far as I can read..and whether or not you have been civil engineer, there is no need to belittle her advice ..I don't know why these message boards can't just be discussions, instead of criticizing others.........
Eddie January 04, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Not belittling her advice or opinions. Just questioning motives, qualifications and recommendations. If more of that was done by the people in this town, it would not be corrupt and bankrupt nor would it be the highest taxed city in the nation. Is it better to make $24 million decisions based on niceness and feelings?
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 06:20 PM
Hi Eddie, I appreciate the healthy skepticism and thankfully i don't have to make the commute. :).....(Why doesn't your patch allow new paragraphs?) ...I'll address your overkill concerns first. Per AASHTO Pedestrian Bridge Codes - which is what a boardwalk is though traditionally shore communities ignore codes it seems - anything over 10' wide has to be rated to hold an H-10 vehicle which I'm sure you know is 20,000 lbs with whatever safety factor deemed appropriate. The beams, (which are not the trusses you mention) designed for Ocean City's Boardwalk are only 12" deep but will hold 72,000 lbs. within an L/500 deflection limit. Unfortunately, this "overkill capacity" can't be removed but fortunately, what it does provide is a structure that far exceeds all current weight, wind, and flood codes.
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Very complex? Not really. It is a time tested concrete arch wrapped in a protective composite shell. 60' beams are light enough to be installed with a forklift and their long length speeds installation.
goatcheesepleez January 04, 2013 at 06:25 PM
While I do not expect Long Beach to build another bowling alley or add an arcade, ferris wheel, etc. (I wish) I hope an effort will be made to make food trucks, or other interesting vendors able to operate on the boardwalk. No more favors or people connected to past LB politicians that have proven to be poor business operators.
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Hugely expensive? Not really. We looked at pre stressed concrete, glulam timbers, etc and the HCB's in the same ballpark on a first cost basis and cheaper on after the life cycle costs were figured out.
Longbeacher January 04, 2013 at 06:31 PM
dump that wood under the Bw ,cover it with sand it must have some type of barrier protection and would cost less to remove ,i know the toxins in the wood ,there gone ,it leaves within 5 years ,thats why treated lumber starts to rot like untreated ,save 2 million to build pay toilets
goatcheesepleez January 04, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Personally, while wooden boardwalks are nice they can be brutal on bicycle tires. I am all for concrete, recycled plastic, or whatever lasts a long time!! Good Luck. I hope we can rebuild Long Beach bigger & better than ever!
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Unconventional and untested? The current LB Boardwalk was unconventional when it was made so I'm not sure what your objection is there. As for untested, the U of Maine Advanced Composite Lab, several state DOT's, the major Railroads, and AASHTO as well have all tested the HCBs. I believe the military has tested them for blast resistance as well. There are 24 spans already installed with more in the pipeline that I don't have all the details on.
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 06:53 PM
All that said, if there is no vehicular traffic on the LB boardwalk I can understand the overkill argument. Also, I was under the impression that your current bents are 20' apart versus the 15' you refer to which would make the use of timber easier. Even still, if you use timber you are going to be replacing it every 25 years or every Sandy as you just experienced. :( If there is vehicle traffic on the LBBW I'm not sure how even a 4"x12" spanning 15' is going to hold a 8000 lbs wheel load and remain within deflection and stress limits but maybe I'm using old math.
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Finally, if you do go the timber route, check out TimberSilwood.com. Chemical free and exempt from EPA regulation, it has a Class A Fire Rating, a 40 year warranty, and is 50% stronger than CCA treated pine. Either way, concrete or wood, I'll give you 110% of every penny I make by sharing information with anonymous strangers on an internet message board. :)
Eddie January 04, 2013 at 07:29 PM
.....Rhonda, lots of terrific ideas! Our problem here in Long Beach is a City Council that will hire a councilman's wife as the general contractor and specify a design based on the color and the size of the color TV's they kick back to the council members. Keep us in your prayers, Rhonda. We need them. .....As you truly seem interested, our present boardwalk is actually framed with 4 x 14. The city removed bridging between the beams when they sistered old wood with new. The absence of the bridging is what caused the beams to rotate when the deck floated. Bolts retaining the beams to the concrete were also bent clear when work was done (what do we need them for?) and no longer secured the structure.
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Thank you very much Mr. Eddie for that info. It is hard from 60 miles away to see exactly what went wrong but we have seen the same magic attachment methods elsewhere along the coast as well as the same questionable engineering. What is the general condition of the piles and cap beams and are they being demolished as well? And is there much traffic on the Boardwalk there? And if you are interested in the TimberSil go here lower right to see 2 quick videos showing the stiffness of the Tsil (MOE 2,600,000).......http://redoit.org/media/........Meanwhile I'll keep LB in my prayers. :)
Hamburger January 04, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Save us Rhonda
Eddie January 04, 2013 at 08:57 PM
....Rhonda, the piles and beam caps are in excellent condition. They are still straight, level and have no erosion, having never been exposed to salt water. They were jetted into the ground. .... The City is keeping secret the extent of demolition. Even the bidding was secret. No engineer has even examined the thing, the City replacing all its engineers with political hacks last year.
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Our substructure was built in 1928 and has definitely outlived its useful life as the rebar is rusting / expanding and fracturing the concrete. If you go here.....http://redoit.org/gallery/ and look at the bottom you can see a typical cross section. Piles are straight but scalloped below grade. It is hard to imagine that the LB substructure is not going face the same sort of expotential decay in the not too distant future but certainly it is possible for well cared for concrete to last a good deal longer. If that is so, and they don't demolish it, and don't drive buses on it, putting it back together shouldn't be that much of a big deal.... two thoughts: If it is just the superstructure being replaced $25 million seems a little high but a Buy a Board program would definitely cover the cost of rebuilding.
Eddie January 04, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Ours was built differently, though the piles and caps appear similar. I've posted a construction photo from 1937. We have no spalling or rusting bars showing on ours: http://longbeach.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/b7036524-19c2-4226-85e6-1a2dc7a1bf1d
Eddie January 04, 2013 at 09:59 PM
I also thought your Ocean City boardwalk was built in '37 by the WPA. I believe the engineer was Collisson, who may have worked on ours.
CP January 04, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Lmao new boardwalk ready by summer season! Going to clean all that sand, fix what is left of our beaches, and put a boardwalk up, and open our beaches in 5 months!
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Built in 1928 by a Collisson and a Collisson Jr. Photos of the formwork in the gallery. If all you are going to do is replace the joists and decking LB should look at TimberSil. Very stable material and on top of other properties on a hot August midday it was 7 degrees cooler than treated lumber. Go here for a PDF...........http://tinyurl.com/TimberSILPDF
Tonto Hertzberg January 04, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Why dont you folks give it a break? Our Public Work Commissioner is a High School graduate! He does not need to hear this nonsense. Let the guy do his job!
RhondaVW January 04, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Mr. Eddie. assuming the city chooses stamped concrete as I've seen mentioned, what would the joist material be? They wouldn't pour concrete on top of wood would they? If they do go with a concrete deck the HCB's could be spaced much further apart to reduce material and labor costs.
Taurus January 05, 2013 at 06:41 AM
An offer to mail me a piece of the boardwalk COD? I've got it covered and will be there this weekend...thanks. And thanks everyone for all the comments-interesting.
Eddie January 05, 2013 at 09:19 AM
... Rhonda, the City has no plans on the reconstruction methods. As I said earlier, when the decision is made, it will most likely be made politically, with no engineering or cost/benefit analysis input. ... That's how Long Beach works. The public won't know the new design until it is installed by a Councilman's sister's brother-in-law.
RhondaVW January 06, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Eddie, FYI saw a comment in an article that said an RFP for design work is already out. Deadline was apparently Friday? Also read that bents are 18' oc versus my 20' guess and your 15'. Are you sure of your 15' ?
Eddie January 06, 2013 at 09:20 PM
The RFP has not been published. It may be secret, published in an out of town paper. Our firm knows nothing about it but we'll prepare a suit it it's not above board. The spans were designed to be 15'. The bents are perhaps 16-1/2" oc. some are more, some less depending on how straight the piles were jetted into the sand.. The beams are 18 foot beams that overlap side by side as shown in my 1938 construction photo. They were long to provide for uneven spacing of the piles. That's from memory. The drawings are at the office and I'll check tomorrow.
RhondaVW January 06, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Thanks for the info. I'm assuming by "memory" you don't mean from 1937. FYI from the article: "Friday was the deadline for proposals from engineering firms to design a new boardwalk. the bids will be reviewed this week, said City manager Jack Schnirman. Once a design is chosen, officials plan to solicit construction bids, he said."............Also when i was asking about what a concrete decking would be installed on I was asking generally as a concrete deck was never going to fly here so we didn't even look into it. As a consequence i don't know what the support system would look like for concrete decking.
mike spillane January 07, 2013 at 10:15 AM
can someone or group take the old wood boards and do something with them ?-if someone would say turn them into a chair or stool they could be sold with the money raised used for some good reason-I would buy any items made -i bet many others would as well
Beachguy January 07, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Thank you Rhonda and Eddie but I got quite lost in the technical stuff. Will our pols and the people who make the final decisions be able to understand all of this and make educated choices? TILB after all.if we can get a proper boardwalk that doesn't need constant maintenance I assume we will save a lot of money. Years ago the boardwalk was much like Atlantic City's with a tawdry atmosphere. Then it went to the opposite extreme. Hopefully we can get some tastefully appointed restaurants, snack bars and such. Maybe even A pl ace where you can get a beer.

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