The seawall guarding Lake Front Boulevard from the effects of Lake Erie will have an entirely new look if plans put forth Tuesday at a meeting of Common Council's Public Works Committee come to fruition.
Representatives from Nussbaumer & Clarke, Inc. were on hand to present a plan to replace the current seawall with a gravity wall composed of 6,000 pound pre-cast concrete blocks. The entire council was present as the engineering firm's Michael F. Smith, CEO Engineering; Curt R. Krempa, Corporate Associate; and James Rupert, Engineer; talked about the proposal.
"It's in very dire straits and needs to be replaced in one form or another. The numbers came in at $3.5 million, in that range, and I know that was somewhat of a sticker shock to everybody, it didn't move forward," Smith said of the plan proposed by Hill Engineering last year. "We were charged to try and come up with some options to lessen that cost and still provide some value to the city, and something in long-range improvements in that area.
There won’t be bushes on the top of it, but the proposal from Nussbaumer & Clarke, Inc. for a new seawall along Lake Front Boulevard in Dunkirk could result in a similar-looking wall to replace the current seawall.
Krempa took over to explain the Hill proposal that was turned down when there wasn't enough votes to get it passed when now mayor and then Councilman-at-Large A. J. Dolce voted no on a bonding resolution to pay for the plan. Krempa presented pictures showing ice coming from behind the wall last winter.
"A lot of the problems out there are drainage," Krempa stated. "Surface water comes down from across the street, it runs down underneath ... this water just gets into the concrete, it freezes and starts spalling the packing off. ... There's areas that the whole face of the wall's been spalled off halfway through the thickness."
He ran through the defeated proposal, describing what it would have entailed.
"All you're doing is just repairing the bad areas and you're going to be back in a few years doing the same thing on a different section of wall," Krempa stated. "Probably in 10 years or so, maybe you'll have to come back and start replacing the patchwork, say, you put in this year. The problem is you're not solving the problem that's causing the spalling, not getting the water out of the way."
He said putting in drainage is key to a successful wall project.
"I can't emphasize enough, the key to that project is getting the water out from behind the wall," Krempa said before running through various drainage options.
Pre-cast concrete blocks were proposed for the wall.
"It's quick, it's cheap, it's pre-cast in the plant, in the shop, so it's usually a higher-strength concrete," Krempa explained. "Concrete quality is much better, you don't have the voids that you would with cast-in-place concrete. "This type of wall is a gravity wall. ... Basically a wall like this, the mass of the wall holds it in place, ... this is just a real big mass of concrete and that weight holds it in place."
The project would entail digging out the current wall, laying a mortar bed of concrete to provide a flat surface, pinning the first few layers to the base and then laying the rest on top.
"They're made to go without rebar, that's what makes them so easy and quick to install. In this case with it being on the lake and the wave action, I would actually pin them, ... at least for the first course of this," Krempa added.
Smith talked about a few things that could be done to earn some green points in an effort to secure outside funding but those will be minimal due to the permit deadline at the end of 2013
Dolce was asked after the meeting how Nussbaumer & Clarke got involved in the project.
"I had early discussions with them, basically to see what they could come up with as an alternate for the original plan," Dolce replied. "Basically, I just wanted to see what other options were out there. I knew the one plan we had, so I asked another firm to look at options and this is what they came up with."
Dolce said the next step would be discussions with council.
"Again, we have to raise water rates to meet obligations from the 2009 consent order. We have to take that into consideration when we figure out how to proceed with the seawall."
Dolce noted the previous proposal was considered to be eligible for funding from the city's sewer fund. As for the permit deadlines, Dolce said the city should be OK as long as "they see us moving in a steady manner."
The plan would completely gut the current wall starting from the eastern end and going as far as funding allows. While no numbers were given, it was noted the new proposal would be less of an expense than the $3.45 million that would have been bonded for the Hill proposal.
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