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Second riverbank project planned

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Another section of the Kanawha River stream bank is poised for a makeover, assuming Charleston City Council members approve it Monday evening.

Council members will be asked to OK an agreement between the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to lay down new riprap -- rocks and other material to prevent erosion -- on the north side of the Kanawha from the 35th Street Bridge to Greenbrier Street.

Workers from AmherstMadison completed a similar project downstream, from Magic Island to near Patrick Street, a couple of years ago. City leaders have been eager to do more ever ever since, but the work relies on scarce federal dollars funneled through the Corps' Section 14 Emergency Streambank and Shoreline Protection program.

"That's the holdup, and that's why the project hasn't moved forward earlier," City Manager David Molgaard said.

The riprap is needed to prevent the river from washing sand and silt from behind the old Depression-era riprap, which could undermine the riverbank and threaten the Boulevard above.

City and corps officials were already plotting this second phase of riverbank work in 2010, while AmherstMadison was still riprapping on the West Side. But they knew it could take several years for Charleston to get more federal funding.

"That has now occurred, and we were presented with the agreement and a resolution," Molgaard said.

"For a while, because of the situation at the federal level, we were concerned this wouldn't happen at all. We're not seeing any more earmarks as we have in the past. The Transportation Enhancement grants have been drying up. Block grant funding has been decreasing. It's the nature of where we are in terms of federal funding."

Although Corps engineers were not immediately available to explain the project, Molgaard said he thinks the work will be similar to that done on the West Side, where workers laid down a new layer of rock on top of the old, from the lower walkway down to the river.

As they worked up and down the river, they repaired the large city storm sewer outlets, extended smaller sewer pipes and removed or rebuilt the stone steps leading down to the water.

"I assume we'll have some decisions to make [about the steps]," Molgaard said. "We were able to mitigate the historical issues by reusing the stone that was removed at Haddad Park as benches and along the lower walkway. Other ones were used at the lower end of the Carriage Trail along

Another section of the Kanawha River streambank is poised for a makeover, assuming Charleston City Council members approve it Monday evening.

Council members will be asked to OK an agreement between the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to lay down new riprap -- rocks and other material to prevent erosion -- on the north side of the Kanawha from the 35th Street Bridge to Greenbrier Street.

Workers from AmherstMadison completed a similar project downstream, from Magic Island to near Patrick Street, a couple of years ago. City leaders have been anxious to do more ever ever since, but the work relies on scarce federal dollars funneled through the Corps' Section 14 Emergency Streambank and Shoreline Protection program.

"That's the holdup, and that's why the project hasn't moved forward earlier," City Manager David Molgaard said.

The riprap is needed to prevent the river from washing sand and silt from behind the old Depression-era riprap, which could undermine the riverbank and threaten the Boulevard above.

City and corps officials were already plotting this second phase of riverbank work in 2010, while AmherstMadison was still riprapping on the West Side. But they knew it could take several years for Charleston to get more federal funding.

"That has now occurred, and we were presented with the agreement and a resolution," Molgaard said.

"For a while, because of the situation at the federal level, we were concerned this wouldn't happen at all. We're not seeing any more earmarks as we have in the past. The Transportation Enhancement grants have been drying up. Block grant funding has been decreasing. It's the nature of where we are in terms of federal funding."

Although Corps engineers were not immediately available to explain the project, Molgaard said he thinks the work will be similar to that done on the West Side, where workers laid down a new layer of rock on top of the old, from the lower walkway down to the river.

As they worked up and down the river, they repaired the large city storm sewer outlets, extended smaller sewer pipes and removed or rebuilt the stone steps leading down to the water.

"I assume we'll have some decisions to make [about the steps]," Molgaard said. "We were able to mitigate the historical issues by reusing the stone that was removed at Haddad Park as benches and along the lower walkway. Other ones were used at the lower end of the Carriage Trail along Justice Row."

The project budget is about $2 million, he said, similar to phase one. As required under Section 14, the city pays 35 percent. Council members set aside the city match -- $700,000 in the 2012-13 budget in March 2012.

Molgaardsaid he was unsure of the timetable, but said, "I believe they want to get started sooner rather than later. This is the first step -- the commitment piece of it."

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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