Norfolk’s Coastal Storm Risk Management project just got another boost

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Coastal flooding in the Riverview section of Norfolk in September 2017 (Southside Daily photo)
Coastal flooding in the Riverview section of Norfolk in September 2017 (Southside Daily photo)

NORFOLK — The city just got a boost for their Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management project.

Leaders signed an agreement, clearing a path for the Army Corps of Engineers and Norfolk to share costs in funding and developing full designs for the first construction feature, officials said.

Its execution allows start of the Preconstruction Engineering and Design, or PED, phase, officials added.

“Norfolk District is excited to embark on a continued partnership with the city of Norfolk,” Col. Patrick Kinsman, district commander, said during a small signing ceremony at district headquarters on Fort Norfolk. “What’s most important is we’re getting after a hugely unique challenge in the 21st century. I’m glad we can be partners with you in making a difference for the people of this city.”

Economists forecast the project’s estimated annual net benefits at $122 million, officials said.

That’s based on reduction in damage from coastal storms to Norfolk businesses, residents and infrastructure; fewer health and safety risks, and the local economy’s improved resilience to impacts, they added.

The PED phase, which is planned for two years, depends on full and continuous funding, said Holly Carpenter, Norfolk District’s project manager.

The project received $400,000 from the Army Civil Works program’s Fiscal Year 2019 Work Plan to initiate the PED phase.

She said total PED phase costs are estimated at $8.3 million, with the Corps of Engineers covering 65 percent and the city, its non-federal sponsor, picking up 35 percent.

“Norfolk District and the city are working on detailed scoping for the activities to be completed during the PED phase,” Carpenter added. “The first construction feature to be fully designed is planned as a 1.3-mile segment of berm and floodwall extending from Harbor Park and terminating at the existing downtown floodwall.”

Other potential activities targeted during full-design development include utility and topographic surveys, geo-technical and cultural-resources investigations, interior-drainage analysis, a value-engineering study, acquisition of construction permits, and a plans-and-specifications package ready for contractor bids, officials said.

The Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Study examined coastal-storm risk management and resilience-planning initiatives and projects underway at USACE and other federal, state and local agencies.

It recommended a $1.4 billion project featuring storm-surge barriers, nearly eight miles of floodwall, a 1-mile levee, 11 tide gates, and seven pump and power stations.

That feasibility stage culminated in early February when Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite signed the Chief of Engineers Report and triggered the PED phase.

“On behalf of the city of Norfolk, I really can’t thank you enough. It’s been a process that started long before I got here and will continue long after we’re both gone,” Smith told Kinsman and a group of Army Corps engineers at the ceremony. “Our relationship has been one of tremendous collaboration, and I think we’re proudest of the timeline we’ve stayed on. We look forward to bringing this project to full fruition.”

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