19th Avenue Section of Belmar Boardwalk Remains Standing

Portion is newer and uses 'hurricane straps'

To the north and south of it, totally destroyed. But the 19th Avenue section of Belmar's boardwalk stands alone as the portion that survived Hurricane Sandy, a storm whose surge crumpled homes and uprooted an entire boardwalk.

That is, an entire boardwalk except the 19th Avenue section. What spared the 20 feet of boardwalk?

Engineer Paul Calabrese said that section was the most recently rebuilt, using stronger codes. Whereas the older portions are built with 12-foot pilings, the 19th Avenue boardwalk has 25 feet.

The 19th Avenue section has "hurricane straps" supporting the decking: approximately 12 inches of twisting metal straps installed underneath the boardwalk. New engineering elements such as those are what may have saved 19th Avenue, Calabrese said.

"19th Avenue was a whole new section," he said. "The boards are strapped down by hurricane straps — that's actually what they're called."

Calabrese said around 2003 a bathroom repair project rebuilt that portion with current codes, which upgraded the engineering.

With so much of the boardwalk have to be rebuilt after Sandy, Belmar will replicate the 19th Avenue engineering for rebuild. The project is expected to cost $17 million, with an additional $3 million for debris cleanup, funded first through bonds then FEMA reimbursement.

"We have to build it as it was, but will use the new building codes to do so," said Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty.

Calabrese said engineering codes are becoming tougher all the time to withstand increasingly frequent, and devastating events.

"The American Society of Civil Engineers has put out codes to have a better constructions methods," Calabrese said. "That's what was used here," and what will be used in the boardwalk rebuilt.

Doherty said 19th Avenue is one of the shorter sections of beach in Belmar. But, it's standing tall.

"It's one of the shortest beaches that we have," said the mayor. "Everywhere around it, it looks like a bomb hit it."

"There's just this one section that is standing there, and this is it."


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