State and federal agencies began working Thursday on a $32.5 million storm control project to protect the northern end of Atlantic City, starting with a sea wall along the Absecon Inlet.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state Environmental Protection Department also will replace an old section of crumbling boardwalk that had been condemned and closed off before Superstorm Sandy damaged it even further. When the storm hit, pieces of that already-damaged boardwalk were tossed about, leading to some inaccurate media reports that the Atlantic City Boardwalk had been destroyed by Sandy.
State Environmental Commissioner Bob Martin said the work is part of a massive ongoing effort to strengthen coastal communities against devastating storms like Sandy, whose third anniversary is this month.
"This project will provide critical protection for the northern end of Atlantic City, which was battered by Superstorm Sandy and many other storm events that preceded it," said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.
The work includes building a stone revetment backed by a steel sea wall for 1,340 feet, as well as a smaller wooden bulkhead in an area that is routinely among Atlantic City's most vulnerable during storms, about two blocks away from the shuttered Revel casino.
Mayor Don Guardian said the project will connect boardwalk sections creating an unbroken walkway between Ventnor to the south, along Atlantic City's entire ocean coastline, curving around the inlet and into the historic Gardner's Basin neighborhood, which includes the Atlantic City Aquarium.
Sandy crashed through the already-damaged section of boardwalk on Oct. 29, 2012, flooding the northern end of the city. The sea wall project is designed to eliminate or drastically reduce such flooding from future storms.
The state and the Army Corps are currently carrying out beach protection projects in Long beach Island in Ocean County ($128 million); Ocean City, the Strathmere section of Upper Township and Sea Isle City in Cape May County ($56.7 million); and Loch Arbour, Deal and Allenhurst in Monmouth County ($38.2 million).
Martin said the state still needs to obtain 239 easements from property owners, mostly in northern Ocean County, before shore protection work can begin there.