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Council OKs riverbank project

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Stabilization work could start this fall on the Kanawha riverbank above Greenbrier Street after Charleston City Council members approved an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Also Monday, council members adopted zoning rules for urban agriculture that allow residents to raise honeybees and laying hens in most parts of the city.

The exact cost of the riprap project won't be known until bids are opened on Sept. 30, said Ken Woodard, project engineer with the Corps' district office in Huntington.

The city has already set aside $700,000 of user fee money for the project, City Manager David Molgaard said. Under the Corps' Section 14 program for emergency streambank protection, "They can commit up to $1.5 million," he said. "We provide a 35 percent match."

Once a contract is awarded to the winning bidder, "They should be able to get started during the calendar year, and then another eight to 10 months to completion," Woodard said Monday.

The project is similar to the work AmherstMadison did several years along the riverbank from Magic Island to near Patrick Street, where 24,000 tons of Indiana limestone were placed on top of the older riprap to prevent further erosion of the bank.

The second phase covers a stretch of just over a mile from Greenbrier Street up to the 35th Street Bridge, between the lower walkway and the river, Woodard said.

After removing all the old lower stairways and some of the large 1930s-era riprap to even out the surface, the contractor will first fill gaps in the rocks with different sizes of gravel. Then a 3-foot layer of new stone up to 18 inches in diameter will be laid on top of the old riprap.

None of the stairways will be rebuilt, but the broad steps at the Capitol will be left untouched, he said.

"We'll take some of the sandstone steps and put them back along the walkway as benches," Woodard said.

"We'll also have a sign discussing the work done in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration." The sign will match the Civil War trail signs already in place along the Boulevard, he said. "We're coordinating with the state Office of Historic Preservation."

While nearly all the work will be done from the river, using a barge-mounted crane, one lane of the Boulevard will be closed for a few days when contractors pour grout around storm sewer outfalls, Woodard said.

At least two more phases will be needed to finish stabilizing Charleston's Kanawha riverbank, from Greenbrier Street to Elk River, pending additional Section 14 funds, City Engineer Chris Knox said.

The Corps has more projects on the drawing board, Woodard said.

The urban agriculture bill, 18 months in the making, allows residents to keep up to three beehives on lots of an acre or less, and up to six laying hens. It also sets out guidelines for community gardens.

Also Monday, council members greeted a delegation from Charleston's sister city in Slovakia who have been visiting for the past week, including Banska Bystrica Mayor Peter Gogola.

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


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