It shouldn’t be this hard to fix a boardwalk

Published 5:20 pm Monday, November 30, 2020

I’m not one of those anti-government lunatics by any stretch, but sometimes the snail pace of it gets on my nerves.

Any photos showing me taking part in any of the street protests from around the country this summer and fall are fake because it wasn’t me officer, I swear.

In fact, the only time I ever feel like protesting is when dinner is behind schedule, which doesn’t happen often. I remember quickly to keep my comments to myself because eating a late meal is better than wearing one.

All Beaufort County residents remember the wide-spread damage Hurricane Florence caused when it blew through our area in the fall of 2018. Some places still haven’t recovered, including the Palmetto boardwalk at Goose Creek State Park.

The rain from Florence lifted the pilings that support the boardwalk out of the ground and damaged about 1,000 to 1,500 feet of it. Two years later, it’s still a twisted heap of wood that forces folks who use the trails to choose another entrance.

Most people were used to parking at the Visitor’s Center and starting their trek via the half mile boardwalk that connects to the other, longer trails that wind through the park. Granted, it’s not a huge deal to drive (or preferably walk) a mile or so down the road to the Ivy Gut or Tar Kiln entrance, but it’s still annoying and a waste of time to get halfway down the boardwalk and have to turn around.

So, here’s the gist of it-be patient because it’s a process. What? Why on earth should a relatively simple repair take two plus years to even start? Great question, see the previous response.

Park officials could have handled the repairs themselves in the past, but not anymore. FEMA needed to be involved first because a natural disaster caused the damage, and they are in charge of paying for repairs.

It took almost a year for them to okay the project for further review because Florence caused so much damage along the east coast. Once they signed off, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Cultural Resources took charge.

Thanks to several rounds of budget cuts over the years, the locals didn’t have enough manpower to repair the boardwalk themselves and they are not allowed to design or bid out the project internally.

I know what you are thinking. Four guys, a bunch of wood, saws, hammers and nails could handle it in a week and we’re back in business. Nope. Not that simple.

The original pilings were not driven deep enough into the water, so the project has to be redesigned and engineered up to current code. The state is in charge of those phases and it has to take bids. By the way, the budget is $150,000.

I really know what all you DiYers are thinking now.  I’m sure you could do it for a lot less. Good luck getting the bid.

State officials, who were pleasant, helpful and honest about the lack of progress basically said to be patient. Florence was a major event, and they are still trying to get people back in their homes, so dealing with our local boardwalk is not exactly at the top of the list. However, they are working on it.

Sigh. See why the government irritates me sometimes? Not at all acceptable in my opinion, but at least the park is still hikable. Gotta go. Dinner is right on time.