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The seawall’s 140-year history begins north of the current section being improved, the year after the completion of the Castillo de San Marcos—1696—when the Spanish began construction of a masonry seawall south from the fort to the Plaza de la Constitucion. The section of the seawall currently under construction and rehabilitation was built in the 1830s and 1840s by graduates from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to what is today the Florida National Guard headquarters.
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The Avenida Menendez Seawall Project is being funded by a $4.73 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant program, which covers 75% of the total project cost. The remaining 25% of project costs is funded through a $1.97 million matching grant from the City of St. Augustine from its General Fund, which is being offset by revenues from the City’s Historic Parking Facility. Rates were raised to $10 per day.
The Seawall project costs a total of $6.7 million, with a $4.73 million grant coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant program and a $1.97 million matching grant from the City of St. Augustine.
The Seawall Project is expected to take 12 months beginning in April 2012. It is scheduled for completion in April 2013.
The original seawall was built more than 175 years ago and is made out of aging coquina—a soft limestone of sand and broken shells—which has lost its ability to hold back high waters and is extremely vulnerable to coastal and storm surges. Over time, heavy rains and storms have cause frequent flooding because the wall can no longer protect from this and is crumbling.
Building a new seawall 12 feet out into the bay from the current seawall will ensure the preservation and rehabilitation of the existing 19th century seawall so that it continues to function as a flood prevention device and that its historical significance is preserved. The new wall encapsulates the historic sea wall, protecting it. While the old wall was built out of now-crumbling coquina, the new seawall uses concrete and reinforced steel. When the gap between the two walls is filled in and paved, the seawall will once again serve as a waterfront promenade with a paved walking path, new streetlights and landscaping.
The City of St. Augustine explored multiple options for the restoration or new construction of the seawall south of the Bridge of Lions since 2002 and narrowed it down to four alternatives after much public comment and expert consultation:
The decision to construct the new seawall 12 feet from the original seawall was made after City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt found coquina pavers at the base of the original seawall extending ten feet from the base. The pavers had been covered by silt and oyster beds and had disappeared into shoreline muck over the course of a century. Constructing the wall a dozen feet onward means that the pavers, which are an integral part of the historic wall, could be preserved.
Visit the Team page on our website for a list of participants in this project.
For more information on the studies conducted before the project began, visit our Resources page.