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Scrapping of iconic JetStar roller coaster, symbol of Sandy's destruction, gets under way

Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 11:20 a.m. CDT

(MCT) SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. — For the past six months, it has come to define the post-Sandy world at the Jersey Shore — a steel skeleton sitting in the surf that was once the JetStar roller coaster.

On Tuesday, in a scene reminiscent of a popular seaside arcade game that allows players to pluck prizes from a bin with a crane, the massive claw of a demolition machine began pulling the coaster’s twisted metal from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

Three other rides — a log flume, haunted house and scrambler —also will be razed within 48 hours, officials said.

“This is what we needed to happen,” said Seaside Heights Mayor Bill Akers. “We needed a visual to assure people that when they come down here not only will it be safe and you will have a boardwalk to be on, but you will be able to go in the water.”

Dismantling began shortly after noon when two floating barges, one with a crane and clamshell bucket, tore and plucked the steel pieces from the water.

The ride, which has 1,100 feet of track, fell into the ocean when a portion of Casino Pier dropped into the Atlantic during the storm. It then became a site for tourists, the media and government officials to capture as a representation of the damage incurred.

A portion of the ride will be recovered and placed on the reconstructed Casino Pier in 2014 as a memorial and tribute to the Jersey Shore, said Toby Wolf, a spokeswoman for Casino Pier. It hasn’t been determined yet how the remainder of the steel will be discarded, but a portion might be donated to a museum.

Wolf declined to disclose the costs of the cleanup project, which is being handled by Weeks Marine of Cranford, N.J.

Surveys of the water and submerged rides were performed and sonar images will be taken afterward to ensure all of the debris have been removed from the ocean, Wolf said.

As for Casino Pier, a mix of 18 adult and kiddie rides will be set up on the lower deck by the summer, including a new high-thrill ride called the Superstorm, a pendulum that swings back and forth and goes upside down, they said.

The arcades, game stands, food and a go-cart track will be ready.

When asked about the sensitivity of naming the ride the Superstorm, the mayor responded, “We hope it’s perceived in a positive way. We know the force of Mother Nature and we respect that and this is our way to celebrate it.”

Work has begun to demolish the upper deck, where the four rides that fell into the Atlantic were located. That area will reopen in 2014, Wolf said.

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©2013 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)

Visit The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) at www.NorthJersey.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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