By DON STINE
A $3.5 million contract to repair a section of the Asbury Park boardwalk, damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was awarded last week.
At last week’s City Council meeting, the contract was approved with only Councilman John Moor voting against it. Moor has been a critic of both the timeframe of the work to be done and, to some extent, the way it is being done.
“I would like to get this awarded on the fast track and get this project started,” City Engineer Joseph Cunha said at the meeting.
The $3,525,640 contract was awarded to Reicon Group, a subsidiary of Reinauer Transportation Companies. Reicon Group, based in Staten Island (previously called Reinauer Marine Construction) has operated in the marine and foundation construction market in the tri-state area since 1986.
The project will replace the boardwalk from Convention Hall to the northern corner of the Fourth Avenue pavilion. The same boardwalk section received temporary repairs last year so it could be opened.
Cunha said the project will replace everything from pilings, support beams and planking on that section of the boardwalk. He said he expects the project to be completed within 90 calendar days once the contractor receives notice that the work can begin.
Reicon will have a $5,000 a day fine imposed for everyday the project exceeds the 90-day limit.
Moor said he believes the contractor may have padded a few expenses in the contract to make up for any fines imposed. He also questioned if a change in the bid specs could affect any Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money the city might get.
Moor said that FEMA already denied a reimbursement application because the bid specs were changed. A proposal was made by Cunha in October to replace southern portions of the boardwalk with a cement under-base for about $800,000. Then-City Manager Terence Reidy informed the council that FEMA officials said the city can proceed with the work but that FEMA would not fund it.
“So there is history here that should teach some lessons,” he said.
Moor said that the cost to drive in regular wooden pilings is $157,700 while the cost for helical pilings is $722,100
Helical pilings are a factory-manufactured steel foundation system consisting of a central shaft with one or more helix-shaped bearing plates and a bracket that allows attachment to a structure.
The use of helical piles and anchors in construction dates back nearly 200 years. In the 1830’s, early versions helical piles were used in England for moorings and for the foundations of lighthouse structures.
“But FEMA could say they are not paying for these pilings,” Moor said.
He added that there was also another bid spec change, costing $5,000, to go from wooden bulkheads along the boardwalk to heavy vinyl ones.
Cunha said he is “relevantly confident” the city will be reimbursed after recently speaking with some top FEMA officials.
“I am not gambling with $565,000 just because of what some lady (at FEMA) said. That’s a heck of a gamble,” Moor said.
Moor also said he does not like the time frame.
“We may be into May or June and the boardwalk may still not be done,” he said.
Another option was to dismiss the contract and do the same work in the fall.
Councilwoman Sue Henderson said that was an option with her but she then questioned the safety of the boardwalk, which was temporarily repaired last year.
“I cannot put my experience on the line to say it is safe,” Cunha said.
He added that any delay will probably cause an increase in the next bid price because a lot of work will become available for companies, like Reicon, in the fall.
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