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Posts Tagged ‘Broadway drainage project’

Editor’s note: Neptune Committeewoman Mary Beth Jahn sends us this letter regarding problems and delays in Ocean Grove’s Broadway drainage project:

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There are a lot of issues, too, throughout Neptune and other built-out towns where the sewer mains are just too narrow to handle the volume of water. Around the corner from my house, Union Avenue between 33 and 8th, has that issue. The main runs out to and up Sixth and is shared with Neptune City and would be incredibly expensive to replace. And it doesnt help that the more asphalt use in development or redevelopment of homes and businesses means less area for rain to permeate the ground and enter our groundwater. That is another big cause of flooding in built-out towns.

Does anyone remember when Route 71 was torn up in 2006 to install the wiring for enhanced Verizon services (now Fios)? What Verizon thought was going to be a one-week job took almost all summer. (I had to keep driving my U-Haul through it as we had just bought the house.) When Verizon started digging, they found all kinds of weird, uncharted things, cobblestones and trolley tracks among them. Then the northbound lane of the road collapsed and had to be rebuilt from the sand up before Verizon could do their wiring. I would love to see underground utilities in the Grove, but what cans of worms would we be opening every time we tore up a street, even a small side street? The Grove is an antique town in the best and worst ways possible: national historic status and citizens who are active participants in preservation and restoration is the best, but not having construction drawings and schematics for everything from day one of the Grove’s sewer installation is one of the worst.

Right now, we’re waiting for the new concrete culvert. We, the Township, kept the contractor to opening only a certain amount of roadway before Labor Day to install lateral fittings we didn’t originally know we needed because there were already parking problems and we did not want to add to them. (Quite frankly, we had originally planned to be done by summer. That was before the contractor opened the road to start work.) That’s also why vehicles, equipment and supplies are stored on the Township-owned grass median – we weren’t losing parking spaces. For the last completed phase of this project, the Camp Meeting allowed us to use the South End parking lot, but that was in the off-season; clearly, that was not feasible during the work this beach season. That is why we needed to use the median. We think it’s ugly and miss the plantings, too.

This project has been ongoing since before I took office in 2007, or, basically, since I lived in the Grove. Fran Paladino is right when he says it was done backwards. I know that every member of every Township Committee that has been in office during the gigantic lifespan of this project wishes we could turn back the clock to when we started this project, reverse the order of the phases in which we’re doing the work and apply the engineering knowledge we have now. It’s hugely frustrating for everyone when we hit hurdles and barriers. We get that knot in our stomachs when we see forecasts for heavy rain, knowing Broadway will flood.

I understand the skepticism that we will get this right, but we will. We will then replant the medians and still make sure that Fletcher Lake’s sluice gate opens when necessary. But don’t take my word for it; let the results speak for themselves. Very soon, we will not have flooding on Broadway.

— Mary Beth Jahn

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By Charles Layton

Could the Broadway drainage project turn out a failure?

That’s what worried large numbers of Ocean Grovers at Monday night’s Township Committee meeting.

Although this $1 million construction project has plowed up large portions of Broadway, closed the street to traffic for much of the summer and brought noise, trash, dirt and anxiety to residents, many said that, after all that hassle, they doubted the project would fix their perennial flooding problem.

As one resident after another paraded to the microphone to question and complain, it became clear that a major factual disagreement existed between the Township officials and some of those residents.

Township officials contend that the main cause of the August 15 flash flood and a lesser but still significant flash flood on Monday was a partial blockage at Broadway and Central — a blockage that, once corrected, will no longer impede storm water flowing toward outlets at Fletcher Lake.

Some residents weren’t buying that story. They said the problem isn’t a temporary, rectifiable choke point at the Central Avenue intersection; rather, it’s that the entire recently-installed system of underground drainage pipes is too small to handle runoff from a normal summer rain.

Francis Paladino, who lives at 69½ Broadway and is chairman of the OG Sewerage Authority and a former president of the OG Home Owners Association, said that on Monday the water was 18 inches deep along his curb. He said from his own observation of the two recent floods he had concluded that the drainpipes newly installed along the length of Broadway were simply too small, and that this was why the street continued to flood.

“We’d better take a look and go back to the drawing board,” he told the Committee.

Allan Ellgren, who lives at 55 Broadway, told the Committee that he felt “the project is not going to work.” In fact, he said, since the Township began installing the new system, the flooding problem has grown worse.

“I wanted to sell my house. I took it off the market,” he said. “I can’t sell my house without telling the prospective buyer that there’s a flooding problem.”

Eric Tellefsen, owner of The Sea Spray, a B&B at Beach Avenue and Broadway, said “there’s probably five times the volume of water coming down Beach than has ever been seen before.” He said his and his wife’s downstairs living quarters had been flooded repeatedly this year and “we can no longer live there.”

Marilyn Laverty, who has resided on Broadway for nine years, said the recent flooding was “directly related to this project… We’ve had rains as heavy in the past, with less flooding.”

Leanne Hoffmann, Neptune’s director of engineering and planning, said the work at Beach Avenue “isn’t complete yet.” The solution to Tellefsen’s problem, she said, will be the addition of two more grates on Beach, which should be installed by the end of September.

Hoffmann and Township engineer Peter Avakian both said another major remaining task is to replace the old box culvert underneath Broadway at Central. This culvert unexpectedly collapsed on Tuesday of last week, and it was this, Avakian said, that had caused water to back up all down the street. It will take approximately two weeks before the contractor can begin replacing that compromised culvert, Hoffmann said.

Paladino maintained that these fixes won’t solve the problem. Although broken, the old box culvert was carrying all the water that flowed into it on Monday, he said, and in fact it was only “running about half full” because that was all the water the upstream pipes could deliver to it. He said he had personally witnessed this.

Even though Township officials predicted that things would soon be better, they did appear to be scaling back expectations of how well the new system will perform. Whereas Paladino, who has followed the project since its inception, maintained that its original goal “was to eliminate the flooding on Broadway,” Avakian said the system “won’t take all the water” that flows down Broadway. The project will only be able to handle “a two-, five-, ten-, up to a 25-year storm,” he said. Officials said both this week’s and last week’s rains qualified as 25-year storms.

(It is, in fact, possible to have two 25-year rainstorms in the space of a few days; technically, this term means that every year there is a 1-in-25 chance of one of those storms occurring. However, Paladino and Ellgren contended that the two recent cloudbursts were normal summer rains.)

One of the reasons more runoff seems to be pouring down to Broadway these days is that a previous outlet, which took water from Main Avenue beneath the boardwalk and into the ocean, has been eliminated. The water that used to take that route to the ocean now flows south from Main toward Broadway.

Several residents wondered whether the Township intended, once the project is completed, to restore Broadway from its current trashed-up condition to its former beauty as one of Ocean Grove’s showplace boulevards. Mayor Randy Bishop promised that this would be done.

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The rain has caused a bit of work delay on the Broadway storm drainage project. Another source of delay, as we reported earlier, has been the discovery that an old gas main needs to be relocated.

Leanne Hoffman, the Township’s director of engineering and planning, says the gas company is scheduled to relocate the gas main on Thursday, and that the contractor will hold off on other work until after the Memorial Day weekend, so as not to create traffic and parking problems during this important weekend.

— CL

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With the project delayed — weeds among the pipes. Photo by Mary Walton

1. Not much has been done for the past couple of weeks on the Broadway storm drainage project, and the natives are getting restless. Township officials say the delay has to do with unmarked utility pipes discovered underground, and that we’re waiting for New Jersey Natural Gas to relocate some of that stuff. The contractor is also awaiting delivery of some pieces of pipe for the storm drains, in order to avoid additional conflicts with what’s been found underground. Meanwhile, the Township engineer says the contractor will be working on the outfall at the Fletcher Lake bulkhead on or about May 21. Prior to that, we are told, they’ll be stabilizing an existing trench and cleaning up the site this week.

2. About a week ago we told you the Township had declared Park View Inn owner Marshall Koplitz in default of his court agreement. (Go here for details. ) Well, the head of code and construction, Bill Doolittle, told Blogfinger on Monday that Koplitz is back in compliance. He is under a court order to follow a set of specific steps aimed at rehabbing the nuisance property at 23 Seaview Avenue. He was declared in default of that agreement as of April 30 for having failed to submit architectural plans to the Township. Doolittle said Koplitz has now submitted those plans and is again on schedule.

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