VENTNOR – The streetscape project to install new curbs and sidewalks and handicapped accessible street corners Atlantic Avenue will shut down Friday, June 15 at the request of local store owners. The project will pick up again after Labor Day, according to Commissioner of Public Works Lance Landgraf.
Unforeseen circumstances delayed completion of the project by the city’s original deadline of June 15, he said.
Landgraf updated the community during the May 23 Board of Commissioner meeting, and the city posted an update on its Facebook page.
“We did have some delays there and 10 days have been lost with design issues that created problems with the design for handicapped ramps,” he said. “We had hoped they could finish the hardscape, curb, gutters and pavers on all six blocks. That will not happen.”
All the hardscaping will be completed on two of the three blocks on the bayside of Atlantic Avenue by June 15, and temporary concrete has been installed on the block closest to Weymouth Avenue and on the ocean side of Atlantic Avenue, to accommodate business owners during the hiatus.
The contractor will replace all the temporary concrete sidewalk after Labor Day, along with installation of design elements that match the other side of the street. Conduit has already been installed beneath the ground to accommodate the new electrical fixtures, which will be installed in the fall along with street furnishings, including trash containers and benches.
“It’s going well, but slower than anticipated,” Landgraf said. “They ran into issues we didn’t know about from 80 years ago. There’s a whole street under Atlantic Avenue made out of concrete where the old trolleys ran.”
It took extra time for the contractor to cut out the concrete road and gutters that were hidden beneath the existing sidewalk, he said.
“We did talk to business owners and asked about extending the June 15 deadline a little further to get more done, but they asked us not to do that,” Landgraf said. “They would rather get it buttoned up to have their summer.”
Wednesday afternoon, Landgraf said that after meeting with Public Works, the contractor assured the city two of the three blocks on the bayside would have all its hardscaping completed, and the block closest to Weymouth Avenue would have temporary capping.
Originally, the contractor was asked to complete one block before proceeding to the next, but Ocean Construction informed the city early on that it had two extra crews available to work to get the job done quicker. However, when the concrete subsurface was discovered, it greatly slowed the project, Landgraf said.
Ken Gao, owner of Yama Japanese Fusion on the corner of Victoria Avenue, said business slowed once the sidewalks in front of the main entrance to his restaurant were torn up and parking eliminated. Landgraf said once the project is completed, Gao will have the benefit of having a bump-out on the corner, where he can set up a few tables for al fresco dining.
A new restaurant, Aroma, recently opened across the street at the site of the former Sage and Lisa’s restaurants, and Megu Sushi a few doors down has already installed outdoor seating.
All of the parking on Atlantic Avenue that was eliminated during construction will be completely restored by June 15, Landgraf said.
Ocean Construction, LLC of Marmora was awarded a $1.07 million contract in October to beautify the area with new curbs, corner bump-outs, sidewalks with brick pavers, streetlights, trees, tree grates, benches, bike racks, and boardwalk accents that enhance the business district. The project does not include paving of the roadway.
The project is being partially funded with an $800,000 grant from the Stronger NJ Streetscape Revitalization Program awarded in May 2017 for communities in the nine New Jersey counties most impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The remainder of the cost, about $300,000, is being funded through a capital improvement bond.
The city will likely incur extra costs for the additional work in the form of a change order, Landgraf said.