Local projects affected by lumber shortage, higher prices due to pandemic

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Construction has been postponed at the Clam Pass boardwalk as the pandemic is slowing the construction supply chain and creating a spike in material prices, and the issue could last through the end of 2020.

For 25 years, Judith Leslie has driven two hours from Deerfield Beach just to visit Clam Pass Beach in Naples.

“It is the most beautiful pristine beach I’ve ever seen in my life,” she said.

She loves to walk the boardwalk.

“I’m an older person but it’s very nostalgic for us to have that walk.”

So she’s glad that Collier County delayed the replacement of the Clam Pass boardwalk.

“I don’t see anything wrong with it!” she said.

But it has been more than 20 years since the boardwalk has been redone, and Michael Cherbini, a project manager with the Collier County Parks and Recreation, said a lumber shortage brought on by the pandemic means a longer wait.

“We were expecting it at the end of July and as it turns out, we’re getting the vast majority of our material at the end of August and mid-September,” he said.

That will delay the project until after Labor Day, and Collier County isn’t the only one having difficulty. Lumber mills across the world closed for a while at the beginning of the COVID crisis, meaning there’s not a lot of wood to go around.

“What we’re seeing now is really the wave from COVID reaching our industry and the supply chain issues that started back in March are rippling down now and reaching really home,” said Ryan Benson, owner of A Vernon Allen Builder.

That’s driving up prices for you and for builders like Benson.

“A sheet of plywood that was $16 a month ago is $28 today,” he said.

Add in hurricane season and a worker shortage, and “over the next couple of months we’re going to have to order earlier, pay more, and be patient,” Benson said.

Another industry affected by the lumber shortage? Furniture businesses, which already are experiencing high demand as more people set up home offices.

Benson said he expects the lumber shortage to last through the end of the year.

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