BELMAR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Construction of a new boardwalk in one hard-hit New Jersey shore town is slated to get under way this week.

Most of the 1.3-mile Belmar boardwalk was destroyed in superstorm Sandy.

The heart of Belmar has always been the boardwalk, but it’s especially crucial to business owners downtown who rely on the boardwalk to draw in tourists.

“It means a lot to everybody,” business owner Liz Finnegan told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.

Finnegan, who owns a boutique on Main Street, said she is hopeful the construction will be complete in time for Memorial Day Weekend, as local officials have promised.

“It’s everything. Those three months are so imperative to me being alive down here downtown. You don’t think so but we’re all connected,” she told Smith.

Construction crews will drive thousands of pilings into the sand far deeper than the old boardwalk, making the new structure more resilient.

The old boardwalk’s pilings were only about eight feet down, while the new structure’s pilings are being put down 25 feet to withstand future storms.

“They’re realizing that we can’t mess around with the weather,” Finnegan added.

The owner of Belmar Jewelers said he’s a bit skeptical construction will be done in time for the unofficial start of summer, but said he’s hopeful.

“It’s going to be very good for the people in the area,” the jewelry store owner told Smith. “It’s a big aesthetic asset to the region.”

The shop owner said he’s waiting for the boardwalk to be completed before getting his hopes up.

“Projects are due to delays and material supplies,” he said.

The city approved  a $20 million bond to rebuild the boardwalk by Memorial Day and had been accepting donations to help with the construction costs.

The project will cost about $6.6 million and is due to be complete by the end of April.

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