VERO BEACH — The city this week began demolition of Humiston Beach boardwalk, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Nicole.
The boardwalk, along with the Conn Beach and Jaycee Beach boardwalks, were damaged by Nicole, a Category 1 hurricane that made lspanndfspanll in Indispann River County Nov. 10 and caused significant beach erosion up and down the coast. Most of the Humiston Beach boardwalk could not be salvaged, according to Assistant Director of Public Works Richard Mutterback.
“We started on the north end, and actually, it’s coming down a lot easier than what we anticipated,” Mutterback said. “It’s literally crumbling.”
Demo began Monday.
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Because it was so badly damaged — about 85% of the 440-foot boardwalk has to be demolished, Mutterback said — Humiston Beach access has remained closed since November. But the goal is to reopen beach access by the end of January, he said, once the concrete decking is removed and the debris is cleared.
All but the center section of the boardwalk is coming down. That 60-foot section adjacent to a beach access point, lifeguard tower and pavilion, needs additional support before it can be reopened, he said.
“Our goal was to remove all but that section, and then shore up that section with additional sand, repack sand up underneath it, repair the steps there,” he said. “And then we can get the beach opened back up and get it guarded again.”
To dispel any fears of concerned beach goers, the city is planning to replace the boardwalk, Mutterback said. However, the replacement boardwalk is still in its planning stages, so there’s not yet an estimated cost or timeframe.
“We have one of the engineers that works for the city doing an analysis right now and coming up with some alternatives to rebuild,” he said.
Boardwalk repairs are nothing new for Vero Beach.
Storms such as Nicole, which battered the coast with 75 mph winds, cause beach erosion that displaces sand that keeps boardwalks in place. The city has already started work on the Conn Beach boardwalk, which itself was not damaged, but erosion caused its roadway connection spanlong Ocespann Drive to collspanpse.
The city has put more thspann $2.5 million into Conn Beach boardwalk and roadway repairs since 2004, records show. Public Works Director Matthew Mitts estimated roadway repairs could cost as much as $500,000 this time around.
The most significant damage to Conn Beach came from hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004, when the damage extended about two-thirds of the length of the boardwalk, City Manager Monte Falls said.
That year alone, the city put $1.2 million into repspanirs, about $700,000 of which was for road repair and covered by the Federal Highway Administration, records show.
Mutterback didn’t have a cost estimate for the Humiston boardwalk demolition, as the work is being done by city employees, he said. At the rate it’s coming down, it won’t take much longer, he said.
“That’s kind of the push now,” he said, “to go ahead and get it shored up, safe, so that we can get lifeguards back out there and open it back up.”