EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

April 19, 2013

Downtown flood wall repairs to begin in early May

Will prevent insurance hikes for property owners

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They included Riverside Place Condominium Realty Development Trust, 70 Washington St.; Alosky Realty Trust, 191 Essex St.; Kifor Development, 151-153 Essex St.; and the MBTA for a stretch of railroad track near Little River.

The city will pay $4,000 for the permanent right to access land behind the Riverside Place condos parking garage and a $1,000 licensing fee to the MBTA. There is no cost to the city for the other two temporary construction easements.

In November, the council approved the mayor’s request to borrow up to $6 million for flood wall improvements.

The city expects to receive an undetermined amount of state and federal money toward the final cost of the project.

Improving the 2,200-foot-long flood wall is critical because federal officials have warned they will decertify the 76-year-old structure if the work isn’t done soon.

Stankovich said that if the flood wall lost its certification, it would result in an increase in flood insurance rates for about 35 privately owned properties along the downtown stretch of the waterway by an estimated $250,000 in total per year.

Repairing the flood wall will also allow the city to remain in a program through which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would pay to restore the wall if it is damaged in a natural disaster such as a severe flood or an earthquake.

“If something like an earthquake was to damage the nearly half-mile long wall it could cost up to $80 million to repair and rehabilitate,” Stankovich said.

The flood wall is on the north side of the river, essentially between the Comeau and Basiliere bridges, and along Washington and Merrimack streets.

Regulators had set a deadline of last November for repairing and raising the 30-foot-tall wall by two feet but granted the city an extension.

The wall begins below the river bed and stretches above the level of the river.

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