High tech flood gates could change look of Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Landmark landscapes of the resort city would change dramatically if a number of high-priced proposals to combat sea level rise are carried out. 

High tech flood gates would close off the Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, the railing that lines the Oceanfront boardwalk could be converted into a seawall and one of the more frequently flooded roads in Pungo would be raised under plans proposed to Virginia Beach City Council on Tuesday.

C.J. Bodnar, with the City Stormwater Engineering Center, made the presentation that in part focused on the question: “What kind of structures can we build to protect the entire city?” 

Flooding has become the hot topic in the city the last few years, especially following Hurricane Matthew in 2016

Flooding poses problems for just about every part of Hampton Roads, but Virginia Beach is uniquely suited to get hit from every angle: the Atlantic pushes in from the east, the Chesapeake Bay from the north, the Elizabeth River from the west and the Currituck Sound from the south.

Since 2015, the city has been awaiting the results of a $4 million dollar study to have a better idea of how much sea level rise to expect, how the city could fight back, and how much it would cost.

The answer: a lot.

“Construction cost numbers, ranging between $1.13 billion and $2.97 billion,” Bodnar said in presentation to council on six alternatives. The most expensive of which would require cooperation with Norfolk and Chesapeake to protect an estimated 43,000 properties currently vulnerable to rising tides.

Dewberry, the company commissioned to conduct the study, estimates based on scientific models that Virginia Beach should plan for about a foot and a half of sea level rise by 2050, and three feet by 2080.

“The annual cost of doing nothing is $271 million per year,” said Deputy City Manger Tom Leahy back in March. “It seems unlikely that the city would not address these issues in some fashion.”

However before a final recommendation on what projects to pursue are given to council later in 2019, the city wants to hear from taxpayers.

“We’ve gone out and done the best science possible, the best engineering possible to come up with ideas,” Bodnar said. “We want to hear what their ideas are. What do they think of those ideas? Do they like the idea of putting something across the Lesner bridge? Is it something that aesthetically would not be pleasing to them?”

All meetings will be from 6-8 p.m.

  • May 29 – Virginia Aquarium
  • May 30 – Kempsville High School
  • June 3 – Kellam High School
  • June 5 – Princess Anne High School
  • June 6 – Creeds Elementary School

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CLARIFICATION: In the attached video it was stated that “Some proposals would even request the help of Norfolk and Chesapeake taxpayers.” While the City Manager does anticipate the need for cost sharing to complete the projects as well as cooperation from neighboring municipalities, he did not specify that local funding from other municipalities would necessarily be requested. WAVY-TV regrets any confusio caused.  

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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