The Ocean City Boardwalk will be closed between Fifth and Sixth streets as construction crews replace the entire substructure and decking over the winter.
Work began this week and is expected to be complete by April.
Bicycle and pedestrian traffic is being detoured off the Boardwalk at Sixth Street, through the parking lot between Sixth and Fifth streets, down an alley connecting Fifth Street and Brighton Place, then back to the Boardwalk at Brighton.
The work is the first phase of a nine-year project to completely replace the Ocean City Boardwalk between Fifth and 12th streets.
City Council voted in June to award a $1.1 million contract to Fred M. Schiavone Construction of Malaga for the phase between Fifth and Sixth streets. The contract calls for replacing the substructure and redecking the boardwalk with an existing stock of southern yellow pine. The contractor is the same one who completed work on the new Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway.
The city plans to spend $1.4 million each year between 2014 and 2017 as part of its five-year capital plan. The city is still working to determine a suitable and durable material for boardwalk decking — though Mayor Jay Gillian's administration will not consider using tropical hardwood, such as ipe. The city has experimented with other materials.
Ocean City Engineering Manager Roger Rinck said Wednesday that the decking is being built modularly in 12-by-42-foot sections. Because much of it is complete and being stored off-site, Rinck said the timetable for the project could be shorter if good weather allows the substructure work to go smoothly.
The contract calls for an April completion date, he said.