Ship Bottom Bulkhead Project Slated for Flood-Prone Area After Labor Day

Aug 01, 2018

A county project to replace a deteriorating berm with a bulkhead in what residents and officials are hoping will alleviate flood water at the end of Central Avenue and West 28th Street in Ship Bottom is expected to begin after the summer season, according to borough officials. Councilman Joe Valyo said Ocean County engineering officials are currently lining up all the necessary permits to install the bulkhead at the end of Central Avenue, a county road. Earlier this summer, the borough replaced a bulkhead at the end of West 28th Street, all in an effort to ease flood waters from storms and even sunny days.

“I look forward to the county doing their part,” said Angela Trampota, a West 28th Street resident who has repeatedly asked council how residents could put pressure on the county to do something about flooding. “It’s just one piece of the puzzle.”

The other piece is the installation of a pump to move flood waters more quickly out of the area. However, there is no timeline for installing a pump, Valyo said.

“Would you agree that it needs both pieces of the puzzle to be successful?” Trampota asked officials at the July 24 council meeting.

Councilman David Hartman, whose home and business are located in the flood zone on West 28th Street, was quick to give an affirmative response.

In May, the Ocean County Roads Department, using a plan put together by the county engineering department, raised the crown of Long Beach Boulevard from 24th Street in Ship Bottom to 33rd Street in neighboring Long Beach Township. Depending on the area of the roadway, the crown was raised between 6 and 8 inches in an effort to alleviate flooding in the center turn lane, allowing one lane of water-free, or almost water-free, driving during a tidal or storm flood.

Raising the crown of the roadway was the first step in addressing the overarching flood issue on the Boulevard in the area of West 28th Street, which impacts every motorist traveling south on 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.

Without the crown raising, the pump would constantly siphon water, County Engineer John Ernst has said.

“There would be no place for the pump to pump,” he said. “We don’t want to recirculate the water.”

Flood waters come in more quickly than they recede, whether storm-related or sunny-day flooding. Ship Bottom officials approved the installation of tie valves, which allow the water to flow in only one direction. The valves are maintained annually and inspected every six months to ensure they work properly. Still, water can become trapped in the pipes for a period of time and then pushed out in the road.

Ernst said the county will be looking at the tie valves as part of the project, which also includes seeking a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection to replace the berm at the end of West 28th Street and Central Avenue with a bulkhead.

“Sea level is zero elevation,” he said, noting the area in question is only half a foot to a little more than 1 foot in elevation. “That’s part of the issue.”

Greg Walker, who lives in the flood-prone area, asked the council for its assessment of the crown-raising in light of the July 6 flooding, the first significant rainfall since the county finished the project, before Memorial Day weekend.

At that time, everything appeared to work as expected. However, the heavy rainfall, 4 inches in about a 30-minute timeframe, came during low tide.

“I spoke with the mayor … it’s a work in progress,” said Council President Ed English, who ran the meeting in the absence of Mayor William Huelsenbeck, adding the mayor would be addressing areas of concern with the appropriate people in the near future.

— Gina G. Scala

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