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Ogdensburg will seek funding to repair flood-damaged sea wall on Oswegatchie


OGDENSBURG — This spring’s flood damage to the Oswegatchie River sea wall along the Maple City Trail has prompted the city to seek funding to replace it.

The City Council today will be asked to authorize a state consolidated funding application for a $1,645,000 grant to construct a new sea wall.

“The whole sea wall has been affected,” City Manager John M. Pinkerton said Friday. “I have been told that the sea wall has been there since the mid-1800s, so it’s been deteriorating over time.”

Department of Public Works Director Scott A. Thornhill said time has taken its toll on the wall. High river levels that submerged the Maple City Trail and eroded part of the sea wall expedited its decay.

“We did lose a significant section of that wall and we lost a portion of the walking path and our lighting system down there,” he said. “You can tell by looking at it that the wall was originally a stone wall that at some point in its history somebody capped with a concrete sidewalk. From everything I see, the city has tried to maintain it.”

DPW stabilized the sea wall with riprap, a rocky material used to protect aquatic structures from erosion, but it is not a permanent fix.

“The flooding was sort of the blow that put us in the condition where we are. We really need to think more immediately about putting a new structure in there,” Mr. Thornhill said.

To replace the wall, the city will have to obtain permits from agencies including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard. The permitting processes take time, so Mr. Pinkerton said a timeline for the work has not been established. He said he expects that funding could be awarded this fall if the city succeeds in its grant application, which is due June 16. An engineering firm would have to be hired to aid with the permitting process and design.

“We think it’s probably a two-construction-season project,” he said. “Let’s say we got the authorization in October. We would do all the planning and everything in winter and spring and hopefully be ready to roll by April 2015. If we get the permitting done early enough, we could maybe get it done in one construction season.”

The deterioration of the sea wall has not affected the use of the Maple City Trail, which was repaved Friday. The lighting system also has been fixed.

“We’ve done the amount of restoration we can do as a city,” Mr. Thornhill said. “That’s where the request for funding comes into play.”

The council will meet at 7 p.m. today at City Hall.

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