Gulf Street revetment planned to protect against erosion

At its April 2 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved a plan to install a revetment along Gulf Street, west of Eveningside Drive, to protect the street from erosion.
According to plans prepared by Race Coastal Engineering of Stratford, the city plans to stabilize an unstable bank along Gulf Street. The city has an easement from property owner Joseph Blichfeldt of 650 Gulf Street.
The project includes a stone revetment about 260 feet long along the water, backed by a concrete retaining wall and topped by a vegetated bank, both about 230 feet long.
The revetment, which is a sloping retaining wall, will be 20 feet high on the water side and slope up to 24 to 25 feet on the road side to match the elevation of Gulf Street. This is above the 100-year flood elevation. The revetment will fill the gap between two existing revetments.
The vegetated swale comprised of salt and wind tolerant native plant species is intended to allow for controlled drainage of stormwater.
“The project site experiences high amounts of wave energy that has resulted in a significant amount of erosion along the bank,” states the report. “If no work is performed, the roadway and utilities in the roadway will be subject to failure, putting the public at risk.”
At its March 5 meeting, the board unanimously approved a plan to extend by about 150 feet a revetment along Morningside Drive. Race Engineering also prepared those plans.
As with the Morningside Drive project, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection agreed with the necessity of erecting these stone structures.
In a March 13 letter reviewing the project, Alexander Curry, civil engineer intern for the DEEP’s Land and Water Resources Division, wrote that a structural solution along Gulf Street was “necessary and unavoidable” to protect public infrastructure and public safety.
“The slope has reached a condition such that further erosion from a strong coastal storm could jeopardize the stability of this section of Gulf Road [Street]. Therefore, the proposed revetment will protect the unstable bank from erosion and high wave energy, thereby protecting the public road from being undermined by further erosion,” wrote Curry.
The DEEP reviews these types of plans for consistency with the Connecticut Coastal Management Act, which permits structural solutions only when “necessary and unavoidable” for the protection of such things as “infrastructure facilities” and only when there is “no feasible, less environmentally damaging alternative.” The city also needs a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Steve Johnson, the city’s open space and natural resource agent who is also acting public work director, indicated the design and permit cost is about $185,000.
Johnson said the funding came from a community development block grant for disaster recovery following Super Storm Sandy in 2012. He said this planning grant project ended March 31.
Johnson commented that the final permitting and design are nearing completion. Once that is done the city will have an estimated cost for the actual construction. He said there is no commitment at this time to implement this project.
“Once we have final design documents and an estimate of the project costs we will need to evaluate this and other planning projects to assess what we are able to do, where the funding may come from, and when it could be scheduled,” wrote Johnson in an April 6 email.