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FDOT meets with St. Augustine neighbors for Downtown seawall replacement project

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — St. Augustine’s seawall, between the Bridge of Lions and Charlotte Street, hasn’t been touched since 1959. But with 65 years being worn down by storms, floods, and time, FDOT says it’s time for the barrier to be replaced.

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FDOT had its first meeting with locals living in St. Augustine tonight about a $42 million project to build a 42-inch coquina barrier between the Bridge of Lions and Charlotte Street. It’s lined the border between the Matanzas River and downtown for decades.

Pat and Marla Daigle, who drive from Louisiana’s coast each year to see St. Augustine, have taken notice of the rusted pillars and chains of the seawall, but want the sights of the river to stay the same.

“If you put a big barricade up, it’s going to kill the view, in my opinion,” says Pat Daigle.

But the shop owners across the street, having seen years of storms sending flood waters over the wall, hope it’s replaced.

“It would definitely be a lot better for my peace of mind,” says Reggie Maggs, owner of Meehan’s Irish Pub, which has been open right across from the seawall for 14 years.

Maggs says flooding along A1A and through downtown has created a need for something more to protect the area.

“It doesn’t make you feel any better, sitting at home, knowing the seawall is not very high and the waves are pretty big,” Maggs says.

But the seawall project isn’t the only one proposed along A1A. Back in October, Action News Jax told you about FDOT’s $8.2 million project to redesign the intersection where A1A meets the western tip of the Bridge of Lions.

Action News Jax’s Finn Carlin asked FDOT if the two projects could if approved, be underway at the same time.

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Finn Carlin: “Is there a world where these are being built simultaneously?”

Hampton Ray, FDOT Community Outreach Manager: “We always try and time things together to minimize the impacts to our community.”

FDOT says both projects are still only proposals and neither has an exact time planned to start construction.

Maggs says both would be better long-term.

“I believe you have to move forward and keep up with the times,” Maggs says, “still keep the same style [for the seawall], but just move forward, without a doubt.”

But the Daigles don’t want to come back to a different downtown St. Augustine.

“The charm of this little area is beautiful, it’s why we come here,” says Marla Daigle.

“If you put up a concrete barrier three feet high, it’s going to look like Miami,” says Pat Daigle.

If approved, FDOT hopes to start construction for the seawall replacement project in 2026. It’s holding another meeting at St. Augustine city hall this Thursday at 4:00 PM to let locals share their thoughts. You can find more information on the meeting by clicking the link here.

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