NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Just in time for the unofficial start of summer, the long-awaited Rockaway Beach boardwalk will officially reopen this weekend. Superstorm Sandy destroyed the 5.5-mile stretch in 2012 and along with it the heartbeat of this beachside community. The area has fought hard to rebuild.
Some setbacks have happened along the way; delays in different phases of construction for one reason or another. The final phase of the boardwalk was finished as recently as last week. Still, in something rarely seen nowadays with major projects of any kind, construction of the boardwalk came in on time and under budget.
Mayor Bill de Blasio reflected on how far the area has come since the days after Superstorm Sandy.
"I was here when there were still buildings on fire, and you could see just the devastation and the boardwalk pushed in on the streets and so many homes that were destroyed," he said.
$341 million later, the city is determined that will never happen again. Wood has been replaced by concrete and reinforced steel, buffered by extra layers of protection including six miles of planted dunes and eventually underneath a concrete retaining wall. Everything is brand new, including the landscaping and guard shacks.
Michael G. hasn't been out here since before Sandy. And with his last piece of the boardwalk finally done, he spent some time Friday evening watching the sunset, the waves roll in, and faces he hasn't seen in a while. And after five long years, he said it's good to be back.