BELMAR/LAKE COMO, NJ — Heavy equipment, trailers and barriers are in place to begin work on the long-awaited Lake Como drainage improvement project.
After a two-year wait, Bird Construction plans to begin the outfall pipe project during the week of September 18, with all work in the flood-prone area surrounding the lake expected to be complete in nine months. In June, the Bayville-based marine construction company was awarded the $4.3 million contract after submitting the lowest among 10 bids for the federally funded project.
In letters from both Bird Construction officials and Belmar Mayor Matthew Doherty, residents have been alerted to expect traffic detours and delays while the project is under way along Ocean Avenue between 19th Avenue and the border of Spring Lake, as well as on North Boulevard in Lake Como.
“It’s been a long road to get to this point,” Doherty said. “We thank you for your patience and we are excited to finally deliver the construction project we have long fought to protect your property.”
The long-awaited project involves the construction of a 700-foot iron and concrete-reinforced pipeline, measuring 60 inches in diameter, which will extend from Lake Como, under Ocean Avenue and into the Atlantic Ocean, reducing flood risk in the neighboring residential streets. It will replace an inadequate narrow pipe currently draining into the ocean that prompts the need for temporary pumps to be set up at the lake whenever heavy rains are forecasted.
The work will also entail the reconstruction of existing utilities, including manholes and pipes, along Ocean Avenue and North Boulevard, which borders the lake, and the restoration of the entire project area.
Since Belmar received a $6.2 million grant in Superstorm Sandy relief aid from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in May 2015, officials have been working through a regulatory maze to gain a multitude of approvals and permits from federal, state and county agencies.
In April, the borough received the final permits required from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the project. It then needed DEP approval for Bird Construction’s $4.3 million winning bid, which was below the $6.2 million federal grant amount.
The project is being financing through a $50 million Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery, administered by the DEP’s Flood Hazard Risk Reduction and Resiliency Grant Program.
Belmar was among eight municipalities in New Jersey to receive these grants, awarded to fund projects or improvements aimed at preventing the massive flooding that occurred during Superstorm Sandy.
During the epic storm on October 29, 2012, the areas of Belmar, Lake Como and Spring Lake surrounding Lake Como were under water for more than a week, causing millions of dollars of damage to homes and streets. Belmar was given jurisdiction over the project at the state’s request, after a commission representing all three municipalities initially applied for funding.
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