With Hurricane Irma seawall repairs planned to wrap up this fall, Punta Gorda aims to revive its seawall replacement program for local waterfront homeowners.

At today’s meeting, the City Council will have the choice to award a contract to Marine Contracting Group of Punta Gorda to manage the program.

“Historically, seawalls were replaced as they failed,” said City Communications Manager Melissa Reichert. “It became a common concern that the seawalls that were built in the early 1960s were coming to the end of their life cycle.”

The seawall replacement program was delayed when Hurricane Irma took out approximately 10 miles of seawall in 2017.

“The city simply turned our focus on recovering the seawall infrastructure, therefore the 2017, 2018 seawall replacement work program was put on hold,” Reichert said. “It is expected that the Hurricane Irma seawall replacement project will be completed by July 2019.”

With today’s budget item, the city has decided to secure an annual seawall replacement contract prior to the summer’s rainy season in case of a storm that could potentially take out more seawalls.

“Every year, city employees perform a seawall assessment and the evaluations are collected by computer, utilizing the geographical information system and then the data is downloaded onto a mapping system,” Reichert said.

That data is then used to prioritize seawall replacements, forecast future work programs, track potential failures and trends, and inventory the replacement of the infrastructure.

In 2010, Reichert said the city hired a consultant to assess and map the seawall infrastructure including sections of seawalls. Those sections were rated from one to five. From that data, a proactive work program was created.

“For the past eight years, the city typically replaced 6,500 linear feet of seawall in Punta Gorda Isles and 1,500 linear feet of seawall in Burnt Store Isles annually,” Reichert said.

As a boating and waterfront community, the regular upkeep of the seawalls is important to the city’s infrastructure and future.

“The seawalls function is to protect private property from loss of land mass into the water due to erosion, improper drainage or tidal/wave action. Seawalls also serve a navigational purpose by maintaining the proper water depth in our canals,” Reichert said. “That infrastructure delineates the boundary between private property (typically uplands) and public property (the water which covers sovereign lands of a government entity) and defines the width of the waterway for dock permitting purposes.”

The next seawall replacement work program begins Oct. 1, and the contractor, when approved, will have one year to complete those projects.

The City Council will hold its second regular meeting of April on Wednesday at the City Council Chambers, located at 326 W. Marion Ave. The meeting begins at 9 a.m.

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