Beyond the storm: NPS replaces visitor boardwalks at Fire Island National Seashore

Last edited 09/05/2019
Contact Information

Contact: K. Christopher Soller, Superintendent, 631-687-4752
              James Dunphy, Facility Manager, 631-687-4756

NPS works to replace damaged boardwalks with more sustainable and resilient materials at Fire Island.

The National Park Service, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, completed the replacement of approximately 5,220 feet of boardwalk at two areas of Fire Island National Seashore in the summer of 2014.  Hurricane Sandy undermined, covered and/or washed away a large percentage of the previously existing 9,000 linear feet of boardwalk that provided visitor access at Fire Island.  Rather than just replacing the boardwalk in kind and in place, the National Park Service took a holistic look at the boardwalk layout and visitor needs and used Sandy as an opportunity to make the boardwalk system more accessible, effective and resilient while reducing maintenance costs.  By eliminating extremely flood prone sections and rerouting other sections to higher ground, the total boardwalk footprint was reduced by approximately 2700 linear feet.  The 5,220 feet of replacement boardwalk was redesigned to be more storm resistant by strengthening the foundation so that a storm could over wash the boardwalk without displacing it.  This was accomplished by replacing the previous shallow depth 4”x4” posts with 6”x6” posts that were set 8 feet in the ground.  The boardwalk was attached to these posts with a more substantial stainless steel anchoring system so that the decking and railings will not dislodge from the foundation.  The boardwalk was widened to 7 feet and now meets current accessibility standards. The resultant boardwalk system is now functioning well and the park visitors are able to use the new boardwalks to reach their destinations.  The boardwalks have been designed and constructed to incorporate resiliency through future storms and the NPS is confident that the boardwalks will withstand future storms and provide reliable circulation routes through the design life of 20-25 years.

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