Reinforcing City Dock to cause closures

$8.8 million project to begin after powerboat show

October 07, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,Sun reporter

With the unofficial end of tourist season next week, the city of Annapolis will close Susan B. Campbell Park and much of City Dock for six months to reinforce its rotting underwater retaining wall.

The $8.8 million project, scheduled to take place between the closing of the U.S. Powerboat Show on Oct. 14 and the Maritime Heritage Festival in May, includes replacing about 1,000 feet of bulkhead with steel, landscaping the park and installing a new boardwalk and about 20 new boat slips.

City officials expect the dock and surrounding area to be closed from Oct. 17 to April 15 while crews on two barges drive in 97 steel pilings to shore up sinking wooden bulkheads as far as 80 feet below the water's surface.

"We'll be working double shifts to get this done by that date," said Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer. "The dock is a very, very, very, very special place, so when you have an infrastructure that is failing and a boardwalk that is old, it's time to make some big repairs. You get to a point where you can't put it off anymore."

Construction is scheduled to take place from 7 a.m. to about 5 p.m. every day but Sunday. Ego Alley, the high-visibility spot for downtown boaters to dock, will be closed during the construction. About 30 parking spaces will be eliminated temporarily.

Harry Sandrouni, chief engineer at the Department of Public Works, which is overseeing the project, said the construction and loss of parking would have a smaller impact during the winter.

"Our contractor is aware of the very short time period they have. That's why they're coming into it with full force. But remember, you can only put so many bodies in one place at one time," he said. "But we are definitely going to use the maximum number, whatever we can fit, to get the job done."

Annapolis Harbormaster Ric Dahlgren said that in addition to the improved infrastructure, changes such as the widening of the boat slips will serve the practical purpose of allowing the dock to accommodate larger, more modern boats than it has been able to using its current, narrow slips.

"It's really the heartbeat of the downtown area," Dahlgren said of the dock. "[The construction is] really basically to set it up for the next 50 years. This will enable us to have a showpiece of a waterfront for years to come."

Residents have voiced concern about noise from the construction and the loss of parking.

"There will be disruptions," Moyer said. "It won't be forever. The principal part of the disruption will be the driving of new pilings. Yes, people can expect noise, probably for three or four weeks. It's won't be for the duration. But when it's over, it's pretty nifty.

Alderman Richard E. Israel, who represents the area where the construction is taking place, said he has spoken with Sandrouni and is confident noise and other disruptions will be kept to a minimum.

"When parking's eliminated, that puts pressure on the residential streets," Israel said. "Every time one is eliminated for construction, believe me, this is an issue that greatly affects the minds of business people and residents alike."

City Dock saw its last major rehabilitation in 1970. Since then, the city has spent about $500,000 to reinforce rotting timber for concrete and steel pilings.

The cost of this year's construction was originally estimated at about $4 million, but the city council approved a substantial increase in the project's budget in 2006 after a study found the bay floor had sunk deeper than initially thought. The city will cover about half the cost, with the state Department of Natural Resources and the federal government providing the rest.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

DOCK PROJECT

The City Dock reconstruction project beginning next week, after U.S. Powerboat Show ends, will include the following changes:

Installation of 960 feet of bulkhead wrapping around Susan Campbell Park.

Installation of new piers along Ego Alley to accommodate larger boats.

Replacement of the boardwalk.

Leveling of Susan Campbell Park, repaving it with bricks.

Installation of cable telephone and Internet service and upgrading of electrical power supply for the piers.

Replacing parking lot islands with three rain gardens that collect runoff from the parking lot.

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