ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- As hurricane season nears, the seawall in St. Augustine south of the Bridge of Lions is still under construction.
The grounds at the Bayfront Marina House Bed and Breakfast across from the bay are beautiful, but guests and staff have been living with a view of the seawall construction for over a year now.
Owner Mike Wieber said, "We're a little frustrated, but the city's been cooperative in working with us."
He mentioned that weddings take place on-site.
"On those days, they're nice enough to move things for us or not run the machinery during the ceremony," Wieber said.
The seawall restoration aims to protect the more than 100-year-old seawall by encasing it and extending it out into the bay a few feet.
"Originally when we said a year, that was probably optimistic," said Paul Williamson with the City of St. Augustine.
The wall was slated for completion by January or February of 2012.
"Our best hope-for date is in the fall," Williamson added.
He said stormy weather has slowed-down the project.
The goal of construction is to lessen the bad flooding that takes place along the bay-front as well as provide more protection for the city from a Category 1 hurricane.
"It's probably more important that it will protect us from those northeasters, full moon, high tides that we have frequently," Williamson noted.
He said the project was also delayed because when funding came through, the construction plans were ten years old and the plans had to be re-worked.
If a hurricane were to hit the city this season, Williamson said the protection should be no less because the original seawall is still in place.
Except, he said, there are construction materials that need to be accounted for prior to a storm.
"The contractor working with the city knows how to batten everything down so it's safe during any kind of situation," Williamson said.
He said the delays in the $6.7M project have not cost the city more money. Seventy-five percent of the money came from FEMA, and the city is paying the remaining 25 percent.
As for Weiber, he and others who live and work along the bayfront believe the new seawall is needed, but they hope it's finished soon.
"I think it'll be a great addition to the city," Wieber said, "People will be able to walk along it and see a part of St. Augustine that they may not know much about."
First Coast News