Plans to rebuild Niantic boardwalk OK'd

East Lyme -The Zoning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved plans to rebuild the Niantic Bay Boardwalk, which the town's engineers say will withstand a 100-year storm.

The approximately half-mile long reconstructed boardwalk will have steel sheet pilings, a concrete pathway and new riprap stones, according to the presentation of the engineering plans at the meeting.

The new design is 2½ feet higher than the original boardwalk, which was damaged during earlier storms.

"We're achieving a higher elevation than the 100-year flood level," said Town Engineer Victor Benni.

The 10½-foot-wide walkway will be similar in appearance to the recently constructed Amtrak portion that stretches near the Niantic River Bridge. Stones near the Amtrak railroad will vary in size according to the slope of the riprap to create a smooth transition, according to the presentation.

The town is planning a staging area for construction equipment and a 12-foot wide construction access up to the pavilion at McCook Point Park.

After asking several questions on the boardwalk's construction, the commission ruled the project was consistent with the state's Coastal Area Management Act. In its decision, the commission essentially said the plans would not be harmful to coastal resources.

Last summer, the state awarded the town a $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant to rebuild the boardwalk. The rebuilding project will also use funds from an insurance settlement for faulty design and reimbursements from damage during Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene.

The timeframe for construction is currently slated for March through December.

Construction bids for the project will be opened on Feb. 7, according to the town's website.

k.drelich@theday.com

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