Flood Waters Stall Start of Central Avenue Bulkhead Project

Dec 05, 2018

When it rains, it pours. That’s certainly the case for residents of flood-prone West 28th Street in Ship Bottom, who were expecting county workers to begin replacing a washed-away berm at the end of Central Avenue last week. Instead, they saw rain and tidal flooding before a gas main break on the plagued street halted work for a full day.

Ocean County road crews were expecting to begin the much anticipated project Nov. 26, but flooding was too severe for any real work to begin. They set their sights on Tuesday, Nov. 27, but were waylaid by the gas main break.

All of this was a backdrop to the borough council meeting, during which two residents asked about other flood solutions in the area, including a pump station and the lowering of manhole covers owned by Verizon.

“The water comes from miles away,” Councilman Joe Valyo said of the water leeching up from the manhole covers. “Any time you have anything underground it’s going to flood. It’s head pressure and it forces the water out.”

One option is for Verizon – which is aware of the situation, according to Councilman David Hartmann – to lower the manhole covers. The other option is for the covers to be sealed. Valyo is in favor of the latter.

“It’s not a major contributor to the flooding,” he said, noting it does keep the area wet even when there is no rain, tidal flooding or other issues.

Resident William Fenimore, who brought the issue to the table at the council’s Nov. 28 meeting, said the water breaching from the high manhole covers freezes in the winter and has the potential to be dangerous if a car travels over it, hitting it just right.

“We’re at the mercy of Verizon,” Hartmann said.

The borough is also at the mercy of the county, which earlier this year undertook the first of three flood solutions in the area of West 28th Street, Central Avenue and the Boulevard when it raised the crown of the Boulevard. Replacing the berm is the second step in trying to mitigate the flooding in that area of the borough. The final step is a pump station.

When asked about a timeline for that, Valyo said there isn’t one – at least that he is aware of at this point.

County officials did not respond to an inquiry about either project prior to deadline. Flooding is caused by water that comes in more quickly than it recedes, regardless of whether it’s storm-related or sunny-day flooding. Years ago, borough officials addressed the issue by installing tie valves, which force the water to flow in only one direction. Although it’s helped somewhat, water can become trapped in the pipes for a period of time before being flushed out.

The area in question is not only one of the most flood-prone on the Island but one of the most highly traveled since it funnels traffic to the south end of the Island. In Long Beach Township and Beach Haven, motorists are often redirected to the higher-elevated ocean roads when the Boulevard is impassable due to flood waters in those communities. However, a contiguous, alternate ocean road route doesn’t exist in Ship Bottom; all the traffic converges at the worst area for flooding in the borough.

— Gina G. Scala





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