Nearly one hundred years ago Mayor Henry Laurens Pinckney offered a gold coin to anyone in the area who could fix Charleston’s drainage problem. No one could, and evidently, no one can.
The coastal city is no stranger to the sea level rise and coastal flooding that most cities are now facing. Charleston sits between four major rivers, many tributaries and the Atlantic Ocean, and while this makes for beautiful scenery and weekend activities, it can also cause destruction and frustration to the 135,000 people that call Charleston home.
In recent years, Charleston has faced four major hurricanes and a disastrous storm during the floods of 2015, along with 35-50 days of flooded streets yearly. Charleston is now racing to fix their flooding problem as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates a two foot sea level rise in the next fifty years.
The City is in the process of designing its third drainage system for the peninsula, and replacing the Battery wall as much as 2.5 feet in some places. Both projects estimate at about $400 million in total costs.
“I caused the delay in [replacing the battery wall] because I realized [during hurricane Matthew] that we weren’t doing enough, that we weren’t raising the wall enough to really protect the peninsula,” said Mayor Tecklenberg.
The plan to replace the battery wall will also include widening the sidewalks along the Battery through Murray Boulevard, which would mean losing the free parking along Charleston’s most travelled walkways. However, City Planner Jacob Lindsey hopes to add additional parking along the East Battery to replace it’s loss.
The city’s newest concern is that parking is overshadowing the main problem here: rebuilding the seawall.
The city currently has $23 million dollars budgeted for the repairs, but it is only projected to cover part of the project. Tecklenberg hopes that the state will approve Charleston for the state grants they’ve applied for.
“Murray Boulevard is a state street. It would fall into Charleston Harbor but for this seawall,” the mayor said. “I think it’s reasonable that the state help us on this project.”
As of February 2019, construction of the seawall near the Coast Guard Station near Tradd Street has begun. They plan to replace section by section, leading toward White Point Gardens.
The project is expected to take many years, yet no official timeline has been released.