Ship Bottom, County Pursue Street Flood Solutions

Jan 16, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

The first snowfall of the New Year marked the first weekend in a long while the precipitation that fell on the Island wasn’t rain. That may or may not be a relief for residents in one of the most flood-prone areas in Ship Bottom, where the county replaced a washed-away berm with a bulkhead to alleviate at least some of the problem.

“It’s worked out well,” Mayor William Huelsenbeck said earlier this week when asked about the bulkhead, though warning that the area may still flood.

The bulkhead, which required approval by the state Department of Environmental Protection, was the second of four flood solutions Ocean County is helping to facilitate in the borough. The next is to address the drainage situation on Central Avenue, according to Ocean County Engineer John Ernst.

Central Avenue is a county road. So is Long Beach Boulevard. Where the two roads intersect with West 28th Street, a borough road, is one of the most flood-prone and traffic-clogged arteries on the barrier island.

“We’re taking a look to see if it’s possible to raise the profile of Central Avenue,” Ernst said, noting the project would be funded in part by both the county and the borough.

Raising the profile could mean raising the crown of the roadway as well as edges of Central Avenue in certain areas, the engineer said.

It’s part of an effort to reduce flooding in the waterfront community and open at least one lane to traffic at the south end of Central Avenue during a flood event, Huelsenbeck said. Currently, more times than not, the roadway is closed due to flooding from about 23rd Street to West 28th Street. When the road is open, drivers traveling too quickly through floodwater create a wake that reaches homes that might not otherwise be harmed. The town council last year passed an ordinance creating a no-wake zone for a street.

Ernst said his department would map utility pipes to determine if any need to be closed off because of leaking.

A pump station to help move water out of the flood-prone area is the final step to try. Years ago, borough officials addressed the issue by installing tie valves, which force water to flow in only one direction. Although that has helped, water can be trapped in the pipes for a period of time before being flushed out.

Before last Memorial Day, the Ocean County Road 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 event.

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 oceanside north-south streets when the Boulevard is impassable. However, a contiguous oceanside 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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