CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A big project broke ground on Wednesday in downtown Charleston.
Mayor John Tecklenburg and other city leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Battery seawall construction project. The project includes repairing the lower seawall and raising it to protect against sea level rise and storm surges.
“It’s just made a mess, an unholy mess, out of this sidewalk and the wall itself is deteriorating," Tecklenburg said about the wall. “Even in the last year we’ve had to spend an upwards of a $1 million on emergency repairs to keep some places of the wall in tact.”
The first phase of the project focuses on the seawall near the Coast Guard station on Tradd Street. This part of the project is expected to last about a year, but it's just phase one of five.
“The whole idea that we can come together as a city and embark on a large-scale project that is built to repair an ancient, old and crumbling infrastructure [is exciting],” councilman Mike Seekings said.
The long-term goal is to repair and elevate the entire seawall at the Battery. And it took a lot of public input to settle on the chosen design.
Back in 2017, the city collected four design proposals which the public was able to view and give feedback on which one they liked best.
Live 5 requested all of the comments sent to the design team. There were 245 responses. In looking through them, you could definitely see a reoccurring concern.
One response reads, "I feel parking needs to be given a higher priority. Given the general parking constraints on the peninsula, I feel sacrificing the current functional parking will limit the public's access to the end destination (the Battery and White Point Gardens). In addition to limiting would-be park visitors, this could lead to increased non-resident parking on nearby residential streets."
Another response stated, “I love, love walking around the Battery and I do it at least three times a week. One of the best draws to the area is the ability to park for free. If I have to go find a garage, pay 17-dollars to park just to walk in White Point Gardens, I will stop going, and I don’t want to stop going.”
Several others, however, were okay with the removal of the parking spaces.
“The park and the waterfront are for the people,” another respondent said. “It is unfortunate that this is currently dominated by the storage of automobiles. It also seems to be a popular spot for motorcycles to congregate. Once the free parking is removed, it will remove the tendency for everyone to drive to the park and will encourage people to walk.”
The city took the opinions of the public and ended up combining Segment 1 and Segment 2 for the final design. The design removes some of the parking, but we are told other spaces will be added in other places.
The estimated cost of this entire project is $64 million and could take up to 10 years to complete.