Just in time for Memorial Day, Mayor de Blasio officially inaugurated the first full section of the newly rebuilt resilient Rockaway Boardwalk last week. The historic Queens boardwalk, which runs 5.5 miles in length, was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The new section, which runs from Beach 86th Street to Beach 97th, is just one portion of the massive reconstruction project, which is expected to be fully complete by 2017.

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Rockaway Beach Boardwalk

In order to provide visitors to the Queens beach with at least limited access during the construction, the project is being completed in sections. The first part of the Rockaway boardwalk is 2.2 miles and is currently open to the public. The second section from Beach 97th Street to Beach 107th Street is scheduled to be reopened on July 4th of this year, at which point 55 percent of the boardwalk will be accessible.

Related: Endangered Birds Halt Reconstruction of Rockaway Beach Boardwalk

The massive reconstruction project was made possible by $480 million in FEMA funding, which was committed solely to the Rockaways. The new boardwalk is being rebuilt with strategic resiliency features meant to combat the effects of climate change and extreme weather. In addition, the boardwalk has been elevated to three feet above the 100-year flood plain and the area has been reinforced with sand-retaining walls, coated steel support piles, plant-stabilized berms and planted sand dunes.

De Blasio, who was joined by numerous local leaders at the event, explained that once the boardwalk reconstruction is complete, any monies remaining from the $480 million in FEMA funding would remain in the Rockaway area for further improvements.

Related: Related: Endangered Birds Halt Reconstruction of Rockaway Beach Boardwalk

“Today is a great day for the Rockaways and for our city. The boardwalk is central to this community’s history and identity – and the new boardwalk will be a symbol of the Rockaways’ strength and resiliency,” said Mayor de Blasio. “As a result of our push, the Rockaways will have a continuous boardwalk by next Memorial Day. Any funds that remain once work is complete will stay here, to make the community even stronger, safer, and more resilient. Thank you to Senator Schumer, FEMA, and all of our local partners for their vital leadership.”

At the current rate of reconstruction, which has linked old sections of the boardwalk with newly built construction, the Rockaway Boardwalk is slated to be completed by Memorial Day 2016 and opened in its entirety by Memorial Day 2017.