ONLY ON 3: Failing downtown bulkhead means 2014 riverfront closure

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Submitted: Sat, 06/22/2013 - 3:30am
Updated: Sun, 06/23/2013 - 9:59am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s one of the best known and most visited sites in historic downtown Wilmington. But some recent events have left engineers with a sinking feeling when it comes to the bulkhead under the Riverwalk.

We first reported last month the Coast Guard says the bulkhead is unstable. Now WWAY has learned the situation may be worse than originally thought.

The Wilmington Riverwalk is a draw for tourist and locals alike, many of whom enjoy a stroll and other highlights.

“I like that it’s old, and I like being right on the water right here,” Wilmington resident Zach Isidro said. “It’s calm and relaxing. It’s just a good view out here on the water where you can see the Battleship.”

But Coast Guard engineers have discovered that the bulkhead under the Riverwalk is failing and in desperate need of repair.

“In 2014, when this gets underway, we’re talking a closure of the block that is in front of the federal courthouse there,” city spokesman Dylan Lee said. “We’re going to redo it, and there is going to be new water and sewer going in, new street surface, new curbing, new sidewalks. That’s not to mention all of the work that’s underneath the coast guard property with the bulkhead.”

Though some see the 2014 closure of Riverfront Park as a bump in the road, or in this case a whole in the ground, many community leaders say that in the long term it’s worth it.

“In the end it’s going to be a great thing,” Wilmington Downtown Inc.’s John Hinnant said. “The park is going to be remodeled, and it’s going to be beautiful. It’s going to be gorgeous. I think it’s going to become a real source of community pride for everyone.”

Lee said, “For the future development we’re going to have better infrastructure underneath. That needs to happen to modernize our downtown and stay true to surface of the historic character.”

The Coast Guard will close parts of the Riverwalk during the third week of July so that it can survey the extent of the damaged bulkhead. That means the Downtown Sundown concert will be cancelled that week.

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17 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Failing downtown bulkhead means 2014 riverfront closure"

2015 years 8 months ago

Correct but the $1Mil in next years budget was slated to go to the section near the Coastline Inn NOT near the coast guard cutter docking area.
Then there’s the expense of redoing the small park, curbs and repaving which were also not planned for (the park was to a certain extent).
And although CFPUA would pay for water and sewer work that leave a lot of work the city is paying for….


Kayak Shack
2015 years 8 months ago

Obviously, inspection and analysis by competent engineers is needed to determine the extent of damage and the need for repair. As a regular kayaker, I observe the water flow and wave action on this section of the Cape Fear River while literally sitting at the water line. The riverwalk along this outside bend in the river from approximately Dock Street to the Cape Fear Community College Dock seems to be subject to more natural forces from the river than other areas. Hence, I suspect this area may require more frequent maintenance or a more substantial structure. Hopefully, this section at riverfront park is the only one needing repairs beyond routine maintenance during its expected lifespan.

2015 years 8 months ago

We must be talking about two different things. I added close to $5 million in riverwalk repairs in the 5 year plan, all in different locations. Water & sewer work would come out of CFPUA’s budget.

2015 years 8 months ago

tie the bulkhead support system to a new baseball diamond. Could it happen as they work their way down the river front?

2015 years 8 months ago

… just last year $affo and cronies had money to burn on a stadium. Gee, I guess the bulkhead problem must have just popped up recently otherwise city “leaders” would have started setting aside funds for its obvious ongoing maintenance a long time ago.

In their defense, it’s really not their fault. Who has time for planning ahead when all of that time is being allocated to finding ways to spend any incoming revenue just as fast as possible?

John Q. Public
2015 years 8 months ago

It would make sense that the Coast Guard is funding their bulkhead repair. Also, CFPUA would be funding their utility replacement. Best to replace everything while it is opened up to make the most of your money…

2015 years 8 months ago

Why the cit council was so adamant about the County changing the name of the beach sand renourishment fund to waterfront renewal fund. they wanted to include River walk maintenance items in that fund so they could rape the county taxpayers.
This was a blatant money grab by the city.
Now you know why they wanted to do it.
This project is just one of an ongoing stream of nightmare situations associated with River walk. Any time you build something near flowing water you have to build that bulkhead to withstand an awful lot of force.
As pretty as River Walk is it has become a maintenance night mare for the city.
Remember this is a river that flows along the shoreline. Protected harbors have less “flow” but just change heights with the tides.
River walk is worth the investment, but this council failed to realize the amount of money it would take to maintain it.
Their attempted money grab from county coffers is laughable.Perhaps Mike McIntyre can bring an over sized check to them…….


dean bailey
2015 years 8 months ago

like who cares. most people in wilm dont go downtown u get rob killed rape, u be better off if you stay away from downtown.

2015 years 8 months ago

I certainly hope YOU stay away from Downtown!

2015 years 8 months ago

The 5 year plan includes less than $1M for park improvements, and Water St shoreline stabilization.
There are no funds in the budget (Proposed budget pg 153) under the capital program to redo the bulkhead, relocate water and sewer and repave the street.
The deterioration of the bulkhead to the point where it’s at now was unexpected.
Now don’t forget, this is just ONE section they’re talking about. I am suspicious that other sections are deteriorating as well…….


2015 years 8 months ago

Where are you all getting your information on how the city is paying for repairs? As I recall, Riverwalk improvements were part of their 5-year plan to improve streets and infrastructure – including the riverwalk – that was part of the budget last year. I didn’t see anything about other funding in this article. Did I miss something?

2015 years 8 months ago

They said it was Coast Guard property, in front of the Federal Courthouse, duh. Do they not think the big icebreaker has weakened the bulkhead, duh. And we pay for it, what a deal….

Rick Wilson
2015 years 8 months ago

This is typical of the City Government. No foresight or planning in the preventative maintenance of anything. If it is not a shiny new project that they try to sell with hot air and speculation, they do not fund it until it is about to fall apart. The money spent “studying” could and should be spent on needs. I do hope the voters remember all the money wasted and broken promises during the next election. It is time for a change and a complete and total audit of how all tax dollars are spent (wasted).

2015 years 8 months ago

So does this mean no Downtown Sundown next year? That’ll suck. We only make a couple of them a year, but it is always a fun way to start the weekend.

Guest X
2015 years 8 months ago

Its the same ole nay sayers on here that just gripe,just for the sake of griping.Hell some of you don’t even live in the county but want to fuss about the city.Maybe your right,they should just let the boardwalk fall into the river.When it erodes to the up to the Post Office just let that go as well.That would really give you something to gripe about.So here is another post that should get you to squawking.Get busy.

2015 years 8 months ago

Nope it’s called planning for repairs.
Yes some of the posters I’m sure are county residents and they should be upset with the city as they tried to get county funds to pay for this repair.
Does it generate tourism? Maybe – but down town Wilmington hotels pay their taxes 100% into the Convention Center fund so the county loses out.
Should it fall into the river?
Nah. The city should have set aside $5 Mil to keep it up, that’s all


Guest Reply
2015 years 8 months ago

“Repair it…and they will come” is the new and improved motto for the day.
The June 18th City Council meeting with their decision to “not raise taxes” just backfired…though I’m glad there is no tax increase…don’t drop the soap in the shower!
No matter whom has to pay for the repair…if this was known before June 18th had arrived…you and your neighbor would have flipped the bill ;-O