Seawall in Atlantic City opens ahead of summer season

Twenty-two years after it was first proposed, the seawall along the boardwalk at Pacific is officially open for the summer season.

“What a way to start the Memorial Day season,” said Atlantic City mayor, Frank Gilliam. “A lot of times we hear about government not being able to work together. For something like this to happen, it has to basically be the federal government, state and local.”

The $38.6 million project involved 99,000 tons of stone along a 1,776 feet seawall. Besides protecting the boardwalk from major storms, you can cast a line and go fishing on it.

“This project is obviously a tremendous win to be finished. It started when I was in my first term as a member of Congress. In 1996 is when this got on the books. And we tried, and tried and tried and it wasn’t until we were able to access the Sandy money because this area had tremendous damage,” said Rep. Frank LoBiondo.

Initially, that was a fight as some southern members of Congress tried to curtail federal aid for states hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. The boardwalk restoration project was a partnership of the state and federal government and was led by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s an honor to stand in front of you to open up a section of the boardwalk to its citizens to enjoy,” said Maj. Brian Corbin from the Army Corps of Engineers.

This week, NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, forecast an average to slightly above-average hurricane season.

“It is really, really important that we be prepared for the next one, because it will come,” said the acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Catherine McCabe.

Along the boardwalk, long time residents are once again hoping this work and other projects will finally turn Atlantic City around.

“It’s been a long time coming and I think it was a great effort on the state and local level, and by the mayor here. I think it will really help business, as far as that’s concerned, especially with the opening of the two new casinos and Stockton College and the gas company, I think that’s really going to help out a lot,” said Margate resident Mark Mangel.

The next step for the boardwalk restoration is to build a steel wall further north that should protect from the area from flooding.