PRESS RELEASE: Rebuilding the Coast, Discovering Materials That Last

Posted: February 7, 2013


Nostalgic commercial boardwalks in the Northeast have hosted generations of families and friends as a popular vacation destination. Local businesses thrive in the summer, when millions of visitors flock to the boardwalks to visit shops, restaurants, bars and local activities. When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast last October, dozens of miles of boardwalk collapsed from the strength of the wind and force of the storm surge. Coastal towns lining New York and New Jersey are scrambling to replace the boardwalks and rebuild storefronts, trying to avoid a local economic collapse.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg encouraged towns to consider using alternate materials for construction of boardwalks, instead of relying on wood for the rebuilding efforts. “There will be no more wooden boardwalks in Rockaway or anywhere else,” he said in an interview with The Wave, a Rockaways newspaper.

Rebuilding with wood would not only require the towns to continue to invest increased funds in maintenance and upkeep, but it would also run the risk of extensive damage by other natural disasters. Parks and Recreation departments are now experimenting with composite lumber, international imported timber, and most recently, precast concrete slabs that are texture-stamped and stained for color. However, some residents remain hesitant to venture from the traditional look of the iconic boardwalks.

Several bidding contractors have suggested using PermaTrak’s precast concrete boardwalk system. PermaTrak offers a product that looks like a traditional wood boardwalk, but will last four to five times longer. Under typical conditions, traditional wood boardwalks are often replaced every seven to ten years, while PermaTrak’s material is designed to last 50 to 75 years, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Built out of reinforced precast concrete material, PermaTrak systems can face the harsh conditions of the coastal environment, including wind, waves, UV exposure and sand abrasion, without disturbing the surrounding environment.  

Annual maintenance costs for wood, composite lumber and imported timber vary from $10,000 to hundreds of thousands annually, dependent on site conditions, length and width of the boardwalk, and the material in question. The most common maintenance issues include deck board replacement, refastening and retightening screws, and application of stains or sealants to further the products’ service life. The exact costs of these maintenance programs are difficult to determine due to one-off boardwalk repair requests and a full time staff and equipment available to work on repairs. PermaTrak does not require any maintenance or yearly service, saving the owner thousands in annual maintenance costs.

PermaTrak’s precast concrete boardwalk system can be designed for wind and uplift resistance through hidden mechanical connections. 

Topics: Boardwalk Materials, Boardwalk Durability/Maintenance