The Wildwoods, NJ – July 30, 2020 – Wildwoods municipal officials, businesses and residents are excited about the new Grand Gateway entryway to the Wildwoods on Rio Grande Avenue.
Along with City officials, the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority (GWTIDA) announced the all-new $13.7 million, Cape May County-led gateway enhancement which commenced in February 2019. The project includes road reconstruction, streetscape, and utility project stretches from 1,300 feet west of Susquehanna Avenue (near the existing eastern abutment joint of the George Redding Bridge) to Artic Avenue in the City of Wildwood.
“The need for the project arose due to chronic year-round flooding and traffic congestion issues. The new design addresses these issues by improving traffic flow and mitigating flooding, thanks to raised, wider streets, a new traffic pattern, additional turning lanes, and a new storm water pumping station,” said City of Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron. “It’s a wonderful way to welcome visitors to the destination, and for City residents, it represents pride, safety and relief from flooding and traffic headaches of years past,” he added.
The Grand Gateway will alleviate traffic congestion along the Rio Grande corridor, and improves drainage and evacuation capabilities, mitigates flooding and is a visual stunner, with new nostalgic Doo Wop style signage, lighting, streetscapes and architecture. Visitors will be invigorated by the sight, but residents will benefit year-round by the dramatic visual and functional improvements the project presents.
“The Wildwood Gateway project is one I am truly proud to have been a part of. I want to commend Freeholder Will Morey and our County Engineer Bob Church for the amazing project in coordination with many great federal, state, and local partners. This is a true collaboration and the results are amazing,” said Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton.
Prior to the Gateway improvements, it was common for flooding and road closures to occur at Susquehanna Avenue due to the low elevation of the intersection and inadequate drainage facilities. The new Gateway will mitigate chronic flooding by elevating portions of the roadway by up to 36”, which is above the historical high-water flood depths; and the installation of a dual chamber storm water pump station. The station measures 39’x48’ and has approximately 8 feet of interior storage depth. Seven pumps will be installed in two separate chambers, three of which will work in unison to pump storm water. The remaining four pumps will be used to pump runoff and provide the City with the ability to connect off-site storm sewers into the pump station to assist in alleviating municipal flooding throughout the city. The $2.25 million pump station is funded in large part by a FEMA grant of $1.864 million dollars.
Traffic congestion common along the beautiful, newly paved, four-lane street corridor will be alleviated by widening roads, adding turning lanes and incorporating new ADA-compliant traffic signals. Safety of travelers by car, bus, bicycle or on foot will be greatly improved by the wider roads, the installation of ADA-compliant pedestrian sidewalks consisting of stamped, colored concrete that resembles boardwalk planking, and the addition of bicycle lanes on both sides of the corridor.
Additional funding for the $13.7 million Grand Entryway was provided by the County of Cape May, the FEMA grant, a $170,000 open space funding grant and a $350,000 contribution from the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority (GWTIDA). A portion of the road improvements is being funded by the State Annual Transportation Program Grant provided to the County in the amount of $4 million dollars.
“Great collaborations set the foundation for great projects,” added Cape May County Freeholder Will Morey. “This fantastic Wildwoods Grand Gateway is a classic and inspiring example of government entities working together productively with vision; the result is a project where ‘the whole has become much greater than the sum of its parts’.”
Rio Grande Avenue will be a fun and functional, clearly recognizable part of the sensory overload of lights and Doo Wop design that is distinctly the Wildwoods, predicated on the colorful, elegantly tacky, bold and brash design era of the 1950’s, when neon lights, whacky shapes and humor dominated. Philadelphia architect Richard Stokes, who designed the now-famous 80-foot-long, 19-foot-high iconic ‘WILDWOODS’ sign, also designed the Grand Gateway as an extension to the larger-than-life brushed steel sign, which is aptly situation at the end of Rio Grande Avenue at the Boardwalk; a fitting exclamation point to travelers’ journeys on the corridor, as they make their way to the beach, the boardwalk and their hotels for a fun family vacation in the Wildwoods.
For more information about the Wildwoods, visit www.WildwoodsNJ.com or call 800-992-9732.