Baywall Repairs Offer Several Advantages
A representative from the City was on hand at this week’s Community Board 14 meeting to provide an update on the structural repairs of the bay wall from Beach 125 Street to Beach 130 Street along Beach Channel Drive.
Greg Clancy, Senior Vice President, Director of Operations for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), said his role is to repair the bay wall and make it structurally sound. He failed to discuss plans or ideas about boat ramps or any kind of public access. He did comment to the extent, however, that the current repairs allow for the addition of public access in the future should the public access idea come to fruition. The current repairs were necessitated by more than 50 years of deterioration of the steel and concrete structure.
These $5 million in repairs, Clancy said, are much more comprehensive than the $3 million in emergency repairs that took place last year when giant sinkholes opened up in the westbound right lane of Beach Channel Drive.
The wall will appear the same from the road as it did before, with a concrete wall topped with a steel railing. EDC, which is managing the repairs in this area, recommended that the existing steel sheet pile bulkhead be replaced with a rock revetment wall designed to control erosion and protect the adjacent open space and roadway from wave and tidal action. It is also cheaper to install and lasts longer than the steel and concrete materials currently in place. In addition, the rock revetment plan allows engineers to make adjustment in the future for rising sea levels. Rock revetments also harbor wildlife with less environmental impact on Jamaica Bay.
According to the plans, the large grassy, open-spaced area where the section of wall allows the rock revetment to be installed, will, however, narrow the open area by 26 feet. In addition, a new four-foot-wide concrete sidewalk will be installed beside the wall. The narrowing of land space is necessary to install the revetment.
This means, however, that in other areas of the bay wall, particularly along Beach Channel Drive from Beach 116 Street to Beach 125 Street and again from Beach 130 Street to Beach 146 Street where the wall is up against the road, these types of repairs will not be feasible, Clancy said. Instead, when these sections of bay wall are repaired in the future, a traditional vertical wall, similar-looking to what is in place now, will be reinstalled. This time around, though, Clancy says, the materials used for the vertical wall will be much different from what was used 50 years ago, resulting in a long lasting and more durable structure lasting more than 100 years before complete rehabilitation is needed again.
For this particular project from Beach 125 to 130 Streets, Clancy gave a conservative completion date somewhere around the beginning of July.
“This wall will look good and for a long time,” Clancy told the board. “This structure can last for more than 100 years and the rocks will resist wave action better than the current design.”
Other parts of the bay wall fall under a number of jurisdictions. EDC is responsible for the current repairs, but others will have to come at the discretion of the responsible city agencies which vary from the Department of Transportation, Department of Education, Department of Environmental Protection, Parks Department and finally the National Park Service.
One section of considerable disrepair is the bulkhead across from the MGP site from approximately Beach 113 Street to Beach 108 Street, which is under Parks Department jurisdiction. When asked by the board, Clancy described that section of bay wall as being in “poor” condition which, by structural engineering standards, he says, will need repairs in two years before it would become structurally unsound. The inspection and subsequent assessment of that section of bay wall took place in November 2010. To date, the Parks Department has not announced any plans to fix the bulkhead across from the MGP site.
Moving forward in terms of other repairs, the DOE will use approximately $9 million over the next three years to make repairs behind Beach Channel High School and $23 million will be used over five years by DOT and EDC to make necessary repairs to the bay wall between Beach 116 and Beach 145 Streets.
“There may not be a comprehensive plan in place to fix the whole stretch right now,” Clancy said, “but from an engineering standpoint this is a good start.”