By DONALD WITTKOWSKI, OCNJDAILY
Ocean City is moving ahead with two projects that are key parts of its island-wide strategy to protect low-lying neighborhoods from chronic flooding.
City Council approved a resolution Thursday night to advertise construction bids for a flood-mitigation project for the Merion Park neighborhood in the south end of town.
In another resolution, the Council approved a contract with an engineering firm to develop conceptual plans for flood-control measures in a large swath of the city from 18th Street to 26th Street, from Wesley Avenue to Bay Avenue.
“It’s a continuation of our island-wide flood resiliency. We’re committed to that, and we’ll keep on going. Our goal is to do the complete island,” Mayor Jay Gillian said of the city’s comprehensive flood-mitigation plan.
Improvements to Merion Park and the corridor between 18th Street and 26th Street are among the centerpieces of a five-year, $25 million flood-control plan first announced by Gillian in 2020.
Now that the Council has given approval, the city will advertise for bids for the Merion Park project on Dec. 13. It expects to open the bids on Jan. 9 and award the construction contract on Jan. 25.
According to details announced earlier by the city, the estimated $10 million project will include three new stormwater pumping stations to protect Merion Park from flooding.
Other measures that are planned include new drainage pipes, road reconstruction to raise the streets, landscaped berms that would act as flood barriers, and new gutters, curbs, and sidewalks.
The improvements represent the second phase of a flood-mitigation project in Merion Park that began in 2014 with the construction of three pumping stations to clear stormwater from the neighborhood. Residents of Merion Park have waited nearly 10 years while the second part of the project was being planned, discussed, and refined.
The project is tentatively scheduled to be completed by late 2024.
Separately, the Council approved the hiring of the engineering firm Michael Baker International Inc. to develop conceptual plans for flood-control improvements in the midsection of town between 18th Street and 26th Street, from Wesley Avenue to Bay Avenue. The contract is for nearly $67,000.
Details announced earlier for the flood-prone corridor include stormwater pumping stations, drainage improvements, and new pipes.
According to the Council resolution, bids for the project are expected in the fall of 2024, with construction getting underway in the winter of 2024 or spring of 2025.
An Oct. 10 memo written by Joseph Danyo, vice president of Michael Baker International, noted the challenges faced by Ocean City as it tries to ease flooding at a time of rising sea levels along the New Jersey coast.
“Over the last decade, the City of Ocean City has invested millions of dollars to study and mitigate flooding on the barrier island. Projections from State and Federal scientists indicate increases in sunny day flooding along coastal New Jersey due to rising seas and subsiding land. This is exacerbated by undersized, deteriorating infrastructure,” Danyo wrote.
At the same time, Danyo stressed that Ocean City has a comprehensive plan to “minimize nuisance flooding” and has been attacking the problem with other projects across town, some of which were designed by Michael Baker International.
“Based on our previous and recent construction contracts addressing similar flood mitigation within Ocean City of similar magnitude, we know what to expect when putting a shovel in the ground and how to plan for it in the conceptual stage,” Danyo concluded.