Florida National Guard participates in groundbreaking for historic seawall project

Written by  //  February 13, 2012  //  Feature Stories

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This portion of the historic seawall along the bayfront in dowtown St. Augustine, Fla., will be restored over the next 12 months as part of a $6.3 million project to restore the 175-year-old barrier stretching from the city's center to the Florida National Guard headquarters. Photo by Debra Cox

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Feb. 13, 2012) – An historic seawall in the nation’s oldest city will soon be getting a makeover, nearly two centuries after the U.S. military started construction on the initial project in Northeast Florida.

Members of the Florida National Guard joined with local dignitaries Monday morning for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Seawall Rehabilitation Project in downtown St. Augustine. Soldiers and Airmen helped kick off a $6.3 million project to restore a 175-year-old seawall stretching south along the bay front from the city’s center to the Florida National Guard headquarters.

Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr. joined U.S. Rep. John Mica, Director of Florida Division of Emergency Management Bryan Koon, and St. Augustine Mayor Joseph Boles at the city’s marina to announce the start of the year-long project.

The seawall restoration will not only help protect the immediate area from flooding by tropical storms, but is intended to beautify the downtown bay front. The new seawall will include a twelve-foot wide barrier into Matanzas Bay, and encapsulate the historic seawall as part of a new waterfront park.

Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr. (second from left) joins state and local dignitaries in breaking ground on the Seawall Rehabilitation Project in downtown St. Augustine, Feb. 13, 2012. Soldiers and Airmen helped kick off the $6.3 million project to restore a 175-year-old seawall stretching south along the bay front from the city's center to the Florida National Guard headquarters. Photo by Debra Cox

According to Maj. Gen. Titshaw, the fact that the original seawall was designed and built by West Point graduates and military engineers in the early 19th century adds to the proud military heritage of St. Augustine – a heritage that modern-day Guardsmen carry on each day.

“We in the Florida National Guard are privileged that we have some sort of oversight into the protection and well-being of the citizens of not only the city, but of our state and nation,” he said. “…The Florida National Guard is proud to be a part of that and we will be proud about a year from now when we stand here and celebrate the completion of this project. It will add one more jewel to the crown that St. Augustine wears.”

The original seawall was constructed between 1837 and 1846 by military engineers incorporating cut blocks of coquina topped with a layer of granite. The new wall will be constructed with joint funds from the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the City of St. Augustine. It is scheduled for completion in 2012.

The new seawall restoration will be completed in time for St. Augustine’s 450th Celebration, commemorating the founding of the settlement by the Spanish in 1565.

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