Ocean County was set to begin emergency repair work to rebuild part of Bay Boulevard through Lavallette, to help Toms River's efforts to allow Ortley Beach residents back into their homes permanently.
"Bay Boulevard was horrificly damaged," Freeholder Director John P. Kelly said Wednesday at the freeholders' preboard meeting, in telling the board the project had been moved to the top of the priority list. Toms River officials asked the county for its help in stabilizing the road so the town could move forward with repopulating Ortley Beach, Kelly said.
County Engineer Frank Scarantino said work was expected to begin Thursday on Bay Boulevard, which runs parallel to Route 35, with crews inspecting the road with ground-penetrating radar to look for sinkholes and other anomalies that need to be stabilized.
Then C.J. Hesse, a road contractor the county has hired for other projects, will reconstruct the north side of Bay Boulevard into a two-lane roadway in order to carry both north and southbound traffic. Currently the road is one lane in each direction with wide shoulders.
A section of the roadways grass median on the north end and south end will be paved in order to move traffic safely onto the reconstructed side of the roadway. In addition, at least five areas of the northbound side need to be dug up and repaved before it can safely be used by vehicles.
Scarantino noted that striping has already been done and the work should be completed by the end of January.
“This is a temporary emergency repair,” Kelly said. “In the future we will reconstruct all of Bay Boulevard but for now it is important to fix this road in order to provide additional access for the area."
Scarantino said the reason for doing temporary repair work on Bay Boulevard now is that stormwater mitigation and utility work that will need to be done as the state repairs Route 35 will affect Bay Boulevard, with drainage pipes and more crossing that road.
Freeholder Gerry Little asked about the status of Route 35's reconstruction, and Scarantino said the state was expected to post preliminary plans for the county, towns and utility companies to view by the end of the week, with a meeting to discuss those plans and comment expected within a couple of weeks.
Kelly said the county anticipates a portion of the cost of the work will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.