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Corroded Pilings Further Delay Rockaway Boardwalk Reconstruction

By Katie Honan | December 12, 2013 10:19am
 The concrete base that held the Rockaway Beach boardwalk for 90 years will be replaced.
The concrete base that held the Rockaway Beach boardwalk for 90 years will be replaced.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

ROCKAWAY BEACH — Reconstruction on the city's longest boardwalk has been delayed once again after a series of tests found the decades-old concrete and steel base that held up the historic walkway will have to be replaced.

The 90-year-old foundation of the Rockaway Beach boardwalk, which stood up to Hurricane Sandy's historic surge while most of the wooden walkway was destroyed in October 2012, may start falling apart within 20 years, according to Greg Clancy, a senior vice president with the Economic Development Corporation, who announced the plans to replace the stanchions at a press briefing on the city's boardwalk plans.

The discovery was made about three weeks ago when the city conducted a series of studies to test the strength of the concrete pilings to see whether they could accommodate the rebuilt boardwalk, which will be higher than the original and made of concrete.

One of the last of the 38 tests conducted since September found that salt water from the ocean had gotten into the steel, and could possibly compromise the concrete.

As a result, the city would rather start over with an all-new base, Clancy said, considering the boardwalk project will cost in the "hundreds of millions of dollars." Officials have said it's too early to say how much the total project will cost, but one official recently estimated it could cost an estimated $200 million.

The new stanchions will be coated metal beams that will support the concrete walkway and are projected to cost $35-45 million. That's less than the up to $60 million that was allotted to rehab the concrete structures.

"The sodium chloride hasn't started attacking the rebar, but over the next 20 years, say, it will," Clancy said.

"This isn't like something that's going to happen tomorrow — we're calling it a 20 to 40 year span."

Even the portions of the boardwalk that survived the historic storm will have to eventually be ripped up and replaced, he added.

The city does not plan to replace the newly-built concrete islands, which had been constructed on the concrete stanchions ahead of the 2013 beach season, Clancy said. He did not give a specific reason.

Building the new base will only add an additional four weeks to the rebuilding, which has already been delayed by the government shutdown and the addition of a protective barrier, he said.

Construction was supposed to begin at the end of this year, but now the city said it hopes to begin construction by the spring.

Work would start at Beach 88th Street and proceed west, and the Parks Department had said it hopes the first section of rebuilt boardwalk would be open by summer 2014.

Officials couldn't say when the project would be finished.

Although a Parks Department official told DNAinfo New York that the boardwalk would be finished by December 2016, the agency has since backtracked.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski wouldn't say when they expect the project to be completed, and only discussed the start date.

"We're excited about the upcoming rebuilding of the boardwalk," she said.