Norfolk Floodwall Extension Project
The Downtown Norfolk Floodwall protects Downtown Norfolk from flooding from the adjacent Elizabeth River and forms the backbone for current and future protection. The existing wall was completed in 1971 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and affords the Downtown area a reduced flood insurance rate by accreditation, under 44CFR 65.10, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) due to the protection that it provides. The City of Norfolk is anticipating future sea level rise, and in an effort to mitigate the impact on the City’s commercial core and retain the reduced insurance rate, they are seeking an extension (both in length and height) of the existing wall to continue to protect Downtown from flooding events.
The City and USACE are currently working together on the initial phase of the overarching Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) project—a $1.4-billion project that includes a large-scale extension of the Downtown Norfolk Floodwall, storm surge barriers, a levee, tide gates and pump stations—to safeguard the City in light of increasing coastal storms and sea level rise. This phase of development is expected to last several years and is dependent on full and continuous funding by the federal Government, an uncertainty in these changing economic times. The City is proactively taking the initiative to design and be ready to construct a limited set of floodwall improvements that provide additional protection for the Downtown Business District and allow the City to maintain FEMA accreditation in the near- and medium-term timeframes.
The design team is currently in the process of completing field surveys and developing the floodwall extension’s preliminary design elements, including the appropriate alignments of the floodwall extension. The goal for the wall’s design is that it will be developed in such a manner as to preserve the character and use of the area while providing the appropriate function and heights for the floodwall reaches. Additional alignments being evaluated are displayed in Figure 1, along with proposed intersection raising and improvements at City Hall at St. Pauls and Bute Street at Boush Street.
Start date: Engineering ongoing
Completion date: Late 2026
Tammy Halstead, Public Works