The multimillion dollar rehabilitation project ensuring that St Augustine’s seawall continues to function as a flood prevention device for the next generation, and that the historical significance of the ancient structure is preserved, comes to an end; a year after Historic City News reported the groundbreaking ceremonies on February 13, 2012.
The original seawall is constructed with blocks of coquina, capped by slabs of granite. It separates Avenida Menendez from the Matanzas Bay and it has protected the downtown from flooding for nearly 170 years.
“The project included construction of a new barrier; twelve feet into the bay from the current seawall,” St Augustine Director of Public Affairs, Paul K. Williamson, told local reporters. “Over a decade ago, city officials first sought funds to repair the seawall following damage resulting from Hurricane Floyd in 1999.”
Funding from the Florida Inland Navigation District provided conceptual designs in 2002 followed by reviews from a number of state and local preservation monitoring boards. After the seawall suffered additional damage, during Tropical Storm Faye in 2008, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded a Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant for rehabilitation and repairs. Florida Department of Emergency Management made the funding available to the city in 2011.
The United States Army has held a long association with the seawall — starting when its construction was supervised by four West Point graduate officers between 1833 and 1844. The portion of the original seawall north of the Bridge of Lions to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument was lost to the widening of SR-A1A in the 1950’s; but, the section south of the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, extending to St. Francis Street, remains intact.