The timber vs. concrete boardwalk debate has picked up over the last couple of years with large, public beach boardwalks like Long Beach and Rockaways, NY drawing a lot of attention. For a time, wooden boardwalks were most widely used, becoming beloved and iconic in places like Coney Island. After Hurricane Sandy, the term “concrete boardwalk” started becoming more popular as owners and designers discussed boardwalk reconstruction efforts in city council meetings and local news channels. Some joined Mayor Bloomberg by citing concrete’s durability and lack of required maintenance, while wood boardwalk advocates expressed their concerns that the famous wood structures would become “concrete beach sidewalks” that would chip and crack like they saw in streets and parking lots. Why would a “concrete boardwalk” be any different?
Choosing the proper boardwalk material to suit your project’s design requirements is key to providing a long-term infrastructure asset and ensuring a happy client. In this article we will point out several key factors to consider when evaluating commercial grade boardwalk materials.
Trails are quickly becoming a coveted amenity in urban spaces. No longer are trails sidelined to distant national parks and obscure, secluded spaces. They’re becoming an important part of our greenspaces throughout towns and cities. Trails promote physical activity and alternative transportation through biking, running or walking.
Back in early 2010, PermaTrak made an East Coast Road Tour through 15 cities to introduce a concrete boardwalk system to the United States. Concluding in Florida, some of the designers from the Sunshine State actually took off their socks and shoes to test how hot a concrete boardwalk material really is. Why would a working professional take off their socks and shoes in front of everyone like that? Because signs like this one actually exist!
Topics: Boardwalk Materials
During a recent lunch and learn presentation, I was asked by an engineer about the walking surface of our boardwalk system, but this question was a bit different than I was used to hearing. “Have you ever had problems with women’s high heels getting stuck in the gaps?” he asked. His coworkers pointed and laughed and asked why he, of all people, would be asking that question.
Landscape architects and engineers who are interested in building boardwalks over wetlands often have several concerns: the environmental impact of the boardwalk construction process, the appearance of the finished product and the long-term impact of the boardwalk material to the surrounding wetlands. It’s vital to consider which materials to use in building boardwalks over wetlands and what sort of impression they will leave on the ecosystem.
Jupiter Inlet, FL Boardwalk Reconstruction Project
The timber boardwalk at Jupiter Beach Park on the south side of Jupiter Inlet in Florida took years of beatings from ocean spray, sand abrasion, rough wave action and UV exposure under the FL sun. Originally constructed of Southern Yellow Pine, the Jupiter Inlet District began a search around 2011 to find a decking material that could withstand the harsh coastal environment.
FIRST OF ITS KIND PRECAST CONCRETE BOARDWALK OFFERS ALTERNATIVE FOR COASTAL TOWNS REBUILDING AFTER HURRICANE SANDY
Developers, municipalities, counties and state agencies are continually discovering and rewriting internal policies for boardwalk standards. A timber boardwalk constructed of Southern Yellow Pine is no longer their only choice.Contract documents now show more detail and creativity - no more “cut and paste” with the same 10 ft timber boardwalk section. With more timber boardwalk alternates available, the debate around concrete boardwalks vs. timber boardwalks has become more prevalent in the news, blog articles, and professional associations. To say the least, timber boardwalks vs. concrete boardwalks is a pressing topic right now for those involved in rebuilding efforts at Rockaway Beach Boardwalk and Coney Island Boardwalk.
The arguments concerning the advantages and disadvantages of timber and concrete exist globally! Instead of directly expanding on that debate, I’d like to provide a more technical, non-biased background to this ongoing conversation. Engineers are faced with 6 key design differences between concrete and timber boardwalks.
After 25 years of work in manufacturing, design and marketing of precast products, I find myself as the National Sales Manager of PermaTrak. With PermaTrak I have an opportunity to provide technical marketing for a newly introduced precast concrete product, one that is well engineered and durable. This is not unlike many previous stages of the precast concrete industry as new products were introduced.