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Council Sees First Options For Long Branch Boardwalk/Bluff Reconstruction

LONG BRANCH: The city council got its first look at some of the options it will have when selecting a design for the reconstruction of the bluff and boardwalk from Morris to Brigthon Avenue.

“I’m going to explain the general solution we are taking, there are no specific solutions,” Talwar said during the April 8 council meeting.

Long Branch Police Sgt. Charles Shirley, who was been spearheading the city’s discussions with FEMA for funding for the rebuild, said the idea is to design something that could withstand another Hurricane Sandy-like storm.

“We’re looking at resiliency, that’s what we are focusing on, because we’re trying to make sure that whatever we put back is going to last through the next storm,” Shirley said.

Talwar said the bluff was once four times its original size and that previous regimes have never repaired it and have simply rebuilt on top of it.

“Storms, winds, weather and waves have taken an incremental toll on the bluff over a long period of time,” Talwar said.

Hurricane Sandy made it so rebuilding on the bluff was not an option, unless it is repaired first.

“In many places the real cause of the destruction of the boardwalk was the erosion of the bluff, which has become a cliff in many points,” Talwar said. “A Sandy-like storm threatens the bluff and anything that sits on it.”

The bluff also has multiple elevations. Closer to Brighton Avenue, the bluff is considered “steep,” the middle section is considered “transitional” and the end closer to Morris Avenue is considered “shallow.” Talwar said different approaches would have to be taken at each section in order to create a more resilient bluff and boardwalk. 

“Each section was affected differently by wave action, therefore our future consideration of resiliency has to take this into account,” Talwar said.

The basic idea, he said, would be to design a boardwalk similar to the one in Pier Village, which was created to withstand a “500-year storm” such as Hurricane Sandy.

“Pier Village’s boardwalk did not get demolished by waves even though the level of the boardwalk is lower than any of the boardwalk that extended previously to the south,” he said.

The boardwalk was raised to an elevation that could withstand the 500-year storm and a gap was created between it and the street so the waves went underneath it and went back out.

“The resiliency strategy is to apply these principles to the other areas of Long Branch where the boardwalk was affected,” Talwar said.

He said the following steps would need to be taken in those areas:

• Raise a new bulkhead, immediately west of the sea wall to account for the height difference between the sea wall and the waves

• Fill the bluff with sand to regrade it

• Vegetate the bluff with geotech and coastal vegetation to hold the sand in place

• Build a boardwalk with a designed gap between the new slope and the structure of the boardwalk

The three basic alternatives for each section of the bluff are to either raise the boardwalk higher than the elevation of the road to create the gap, shift the boardwalk eastward making it lower than the road, or build the boardwalk on the sea wall with ramps leading down from the road that would help support the steep slope of the bluff.

Talwar said whatever design decisions are reached by the city must be agreed upon by the NJDEP and the Army Corps of Engineers, which also have jurisdiction over the bluff, and FEMA.

“We have to gain the acceptance of multiple agencies to actually choose the combination of techniques that will be applicable and will be funded by the federal government,” Talwar said.

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