Groundbreaking for seawall rehabilitation project

Local Historic City News reporters will be on hand when the City of St Augustine holds a groundbreaking ceremony for its seawall project; marking the commencement of a multimillion dollar project ensuring the preservation of an important historical structure for another generation.

Historic City News readers are invited to attend the ceremony on Monday, February 13, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, 111 Avenida Menendez.

In recognition of their constant vigilance on the federal and state levels to facilitate funding for the project, the ceremony will include remarks from U.S. Congressman John Mica and Bryan Koon, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Maj. Gen. Emmett R. Titshaw, The Adjutant General of the Florida National Guard, will offer remarks in recognition of the army’s long association with the seawall — starting when its construction was supervised by four West Point graduate officers between 1833 and 1844.

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.

Construction is scheduled to last for approximately one year — occurring in the area south of the St. Augustine Municipal Marina then extending to St. Francis Street.

The scope of work includes construction of a new barrier twelve feet into the bay from the current seawall. This will encapsulate the historic structure, protecting it, but leaving it partially exposed so it becomes a significant part of the new waterfront park.

The seawall is constructed with blocks of coquina, capped by slabs of granite. It separates Avenida Menendez from the Matanzas Bay. It has protected the downtown from flooding for nearly 170 years.

The portion of the original seawall north of the Bridge of Lions was lost to the widening of state Highway A1A in the 1950s, but the section south of the municipal marina remains intact.

Preservation and rehabilitation of that section of the seawall today, ensures that it continues to function as a flood prevention device and that the historical significance of the ancient structure is preserved.

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