BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
---- — NEWBURYPORT — City officials yesterday continued to consider the alternatives in their initiative to improve the bulkheads that support the boardwalk along the river.
The structure that supports about 1,300 feet of walking area from the Black Cow to the commercial fishing pier is showing its age, engineers say.
Much of this infrastructure was built in 1988, and recent studies have revealed areas that need improvement, said Russell Titmuss, an engineer and vice president of Bourne Consulting Engineering of Franklin.
In other parts of the boardwalk, temporary repairs have been made in recent years but more permanent solutions must be identified.
Titmuss said there is no fear of serious damage at this time, but he said his role is to provide alternatives so that city officials can make adjustments now rather than waiting for later.
There are five distinct sections that make up this expanse, and several sectors have experienced the natural deterioration that comes with constant exposure to current, tides and floating ice on the river.
In some sections, engineers have noticed corrosion in steel supports. In other parts of the boardwalk, sinkholes have emerged behind and/or under the boardwalk.
City Planning director Andy Port and senior project manager Geordie Vining said the city is prepared to make some upgrades.
The city months ago received a commitment for a $1.98 million grant from the state Seaport Advisory Commission to make improvements, said Vining.
No action was taken yesterday. Municipal leaders will assess the alternatives and make a decision how to proceed.
“The city is not going to have enough money to pursue all the alternatives,” said Vining. “A project could come in two phases.
“There is no danger of serious damage leading to collapse. But we want to be studying the issue so we can make the improvements that must be made.”
City officials say engineering studies could take place this spring. Bids for designated projects could be extended in summer and construction could possibly begin in the fall, after boating season, city officials say.