Seawall project behind schedule, repairs to cost taxpayers $400K more

City hopes to open part of promenade the week after Labor Day

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The stretch of the seawall that runs from High Street Landing to the Renaissance Hotel is now scheduled to open the second week of September after the city says unexpected problems led to a 60-day setback.

The current construction is costing about $6 million of the total $20 million price tag.

City Engineer James Wright says the “unanticipated issues” involve extra re-enforcing underwater that tack on more than $390,000 in construction cost.

“There’s no hold up. The project is just taking longer,” said Wright, who says the project is not over budget but within “acceptable contingency.”

“We do what we can and take the time we need to take to make sure when it opens it’s safe.”

$20M seawall project progressing in Portsmouth, yet far from over

On Thursday, crews began placing portions of the concrete walkways. Residents say it’s nice to see some visible progress after being forced to walk around the work zone for more than two years.

“You can’t go straight. You can’t just walk along the wall like previously,” said Vanessa Valentine.

A portion of the seawall closed in 2015 after an inspection revealed structural problems. The promenade closer to City Hall re-opened, but the current construction area remained closed due to safety concerns.

Gallery: Portsmouth seawall project

Mayor John Rowe says the city became aware of the failing seawall in 2010.

“It’s one of the prominent features of our waterfront and it does provide for erosion control and flood protection, so it’s a much-needed project.,” said Rowe.

Wright says while it has taken longer to complete, he’s still happy with the work being done.

“There hasn’t been a gap in the work,” said Wright. “The work has continued throughout the process. That’s all you can ask for with a project like this.”

After construction wraps up in the current area, the same crews will begin a seven-month overhaul of the seawall near City Hall. The third phase will replace the seawall from 

Wright says the $20 million is being funded through a capital improvement plan, but there are still smaller parts of the seawall that have not yet received funding.