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End of the road for repairs along A1A in Fort Lauderdale

More than 500 pieces of sheet metal, 27,000 tons of sand and $8.3 million dollars later, the storm-thrashed portion of Fort Lauderdale’s A1A is nearing the end of repairs.

The stretch of road between Northeast 14th Court and Northeast 18th Street has been under repair since Jan. 3 after being eroded during Hurricane Sandy in October. After months of emergency repair, the road is expected to be complete by the end of the week.

The road began to crumble without sufficient support underneath prompting Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to come up with emergency action to restore the zig-zagging cracks in the asphalt, overturned trees, sinking concrete barricades, shaky foundation and storm-ravished beach.

The project was slated to wrap up in early May, but seasonal rains have stalled the process.

“Mostly it’s been the weather that has been holding us back,” said Barbara Kelleher, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation. “The pavement has to be totally dry before we put the pavement markings in.”

With the rain washing in almost every day for the last week, the pavement hasn’t dried quickly enough to apply the restriping that will complete the road’s restoration.

Two lanes of four remain closed, with one in each direction. The lanes will reopen once the road has reached completion.

To repair the badly eroded area, a wall made of connecting 44-foot-long pieces of metal sheet pilings were installed 42 feet into the ground, a more stable solution to the concrete embankment in place before. Eighteen inches of it stick up above the sand with a wood cap on top for visitors to sit on, Kelleher said.

Broward County put in the $860,000 worth of sand to restore the beach. Thirteen one-foot-deep acres of sand were added to the area in late March.

“We wanted to get a beach there for shore protection,” said Eric Myers, a Broward County natural resources administrator, “and we had to do it before turtle nesting season to not interfere with nesting.”

The plan is part of a short-term project to restore the area. The city of Fort Lauderdale, along with Broward County Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, are currently drawing up plans for long-term restoration to the area.

“We see this as an opportunity to make the roadway safer, more beautiful, more pedestrian friendly and more bicycle friendly,” said Matt Little, a City of Fort Lauderdale spokesman.

The project is expected to receive funding and start work in late 2014 and aims at securing the roadway from future natural disasters.

For the time being, the emergency fix is expected to sustain the roadway.

“It is unlikely that it will erode like it had because the sheet pile is embedded into the earth…and if it does it will be like Malibu, it would be a huge drop-off,” Kelleher said. “The road will be protected at this point.”