NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A massive multi-year construction project aimed at better protecting Norfolk from flooding could be set into motion at City Council’s next meeting.
A partnership agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is up for a vote as part of the city’s coastal storm risk management project known as Resilient Norfolk.
If agreed to, the city and corps will launch into a $2.6 billion plan that will add storm-surge barriers, nearly eight miles of floodwalls, nearly one mile of levees, 11 tide gates, and 10 pump stations around the city.
The project would be conducted in five phases over the next decade with the goal of reducing the city’s risk from coastal flooding and damage due to nor’easters, hurricanes and other significant storm events.
“The City of Norfolk continues to lead the way in coastal resilience and adaptation, and we are fully committed to the Resilient Norfolk project,” Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander said in a release. “Norfolk is challenged with rising sea levels, making it imperative that we act now to ensure the ongoing safety and prosperity of our residents and businesses. We look forward to working with the Army Corps to make Norfolk a more resilient city of the future.”
Under the terms of the agreement, federal money will cover $1.7 billion of the costs, while $931 million must come from the city.
While the city has been guaranteed nearly $400 million in federal, they have a match requirement of $215 million according to Kyle Spencer, chief resilience officer for the City of Norfolk. The state so far has pledged $25 million of that goal.
It’s a large amount for a cash-strapped city and City Manager Chip Filer has said it is complicating progress of the high profile Military Circle Mall redevelopment.
Once the agreement is approved, Resilient Norfolk can move from the preliminary engineering and design phase into the construction phase.
“We’re excited for this next step forward in the Resilient Norfolk project,” Spencer said. “Flooding events have tripled since the 1970s. The PPA (project partnership agreement) allows the city of Norfolk to move forward in developing significant flood mitigation measures that will reduce the risk of flooding and damage to the city.”
Construction could begin on phase one in downtown Norfolk this year. The project will extend from West Ghent to the Harbor Park area, including replacement of the existing floodwall. A storm surge barrier is proposed at the entrance to The Hague.
Not all remedies will occur on waterfronts. Home elevations, basement fills, and commercial floodproofing are also considered.