The first wooden pylon is in Belmar's beach, signifying the beginning of the borough's new boardwalk.

Governor Christie at the start of construction on the new boardwalk in Belmar (Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media NJ)

Mayor Matt Doherty was joined Wednesday morning by Congressmen Frank Pallone and Chris Smith as well as Governor Christie to commence the $ 6.6 million construction of the shore town's most important landmark.

The 1.3 mile promenade is being built by Piscataway based Epic Construction, and is expected to be largely completed by May in order to be fully operational for Memorial Day weekend. Mayor Doherty says the new promenade will have 14,000 Trex boards, and will be built to a much higher standard than the previous boardwalk. Originally Ipe was slated to be used but was abandoned for the slightly less expensive, and less durable, Trex material over concern from environmentalists.

"We would have proffered to use Ipe, but there were environmental groups outside of Belmar and outside of New Jersey, that threatened to sue us and our attorney that any type of fight would delay the project and we just can't afford it."

The new material will still however create a new boardwalk that is far superior to the prior one.

"The old one was built over the seventies and eighties and nineties and had no chance against the storm surge of hurricane Sandy."

The new pilings will be driven twenty feet deep; pilings were as shallow as six feet in the old construction. There will also be hurricane straps at every cross sections.

"It's going to be built to withstand something like the storm surge of hurricane Sandy."

The borough did not wait until Congress approved the Sandy Aid bill later this month to start construction. Doherty says the project was done in conjunction with FEMA and fulfills all of their standards for reimbursement.

"We know that the way we're building it adheres to their guidelines for reimbursement so we're very confident we will be reimbursed. Right now we have to bond for the money and the longer we have to pay interest on those bonds, the more expensive it is."

Doherty notes the boardwalk is vital to the borough's economy, drawing a million visitors annually and is vital to the local economy-which is mostly comprised of small businesses.

The original cost was estimated as much as seventeen million, however dropped down to under 7 million after it went out to bid. The borough also raised a quarter of a million dollars through its "Buy a Board" program.

"We're going to be able to build and redesign a new boardwalk with no increases to the beach fees."

The contract with Epic requires them to substantially complete construction by April 30th, Doherty says if the company hits the deadline they receive a 100,000 competition bonus but if they miss it they face liquidated damages of 7,500 dollars a day for every additional day.

Video by Ilya Hemlin