City to cover repair cost of boardwalk

ALPENA — The City of Alpena’s insurance is not going to pay to cover the cost of repairs and replacement to the boardwalk at North Riverside Park, which was severely damaged when it collapsed due to erosion. The city will now have to pay for the repairs.

Last month City Engineer Rich Sullenger said it is hard to predict how much it would cost to have the boardwalk repaired, but estimated it would be $100,000 or more.

According to Assistant Engineer Steve Shultz, design plans for the repairs have been done and submitted to state and federal authorities and the city is waiting for a permit that will allow the construction to begin. He said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality reviewed the plan submitted by the city and then requested a few minor changes to be made. The city did so and now it is in the 20 day public notice phase, which ends next week. Shultz said the Army Corps of Engineers considered it a small project and didn’t require a public notice period.

“Now we are being proactive and have already put the project out for bid because we hope we can still get it done before the end of the year so it is ready for spring,” Shultz said.

The boardwalk collapsed because of a failure of the rip-rap, which is a series of large boulders that protected the ground under and around the walkway. Over time, the current in the river and waves eroded the soil around the rocks, causing them to slide away and exposed the ground to erosion.

Shultz said the wooden decking of the boardwalk has been kept, but admitted some of it is still warped.

“We want to be able to use as much of it as we can,” he said. “When it is done we want it to look exactly the same as it did before this happened.”

Shultz didn’t want to speculate on how much the project would cost, or where Alpena Municipal Council would take the money for the repairs.

“This is not something we normally put together estimates for, but there will be a lot of steel work and a lot of welding that needs to get done,” Shultz said. “I guess somebody is going to have to find the money from somewhere because we need it. It is heavily used and a nice addition to the park.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.