On Monday, October 7, Downtown Jacksonville business owner Corey Duval posted a Facebook Live video that showing portions of the Northbank Riverwalk are collapsing, leaving holes in the walkway in front of the Jacksonville Landing. The video comes after a day of heavy rain as well as continued work on the city’s controversial plan to demolish the Landing.
According to Duval, the owner of Hollywood Cuts Barber Shop and Lux Hair Studio on Monroe Street, he was out for an evening run on the Riverwalk when he realized he had dropped his keys. As he turned back to get them, his foot got caught in a space where a brick had fallen in. More bricks caved in under Duval, leaving a bigger hole. “The Riverwalk collapsed like right under my feet,” said Duval in the video. He subsequently found another, larger hole in the same area around a lamppost. “Somebody could have been killed,” said Duval. “I could have been killed running down here.”
Corey Duval’s Facebook Live video. Courtesy of Corey Duval.
The holes had widened by the next day and were collapsing underfoot, although the city had not yet cordoned them off. The collapses are apparently happening on part of the Riverwalk that runs over the bulkhead, and not over water. They appear to be due to deterioration in the bulkhead, and not to the work being done at the Landing.
The city is aware of problems with the Northbank Riverwalk bulkhead, and has included $40 million for restoration in the current Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). In a statement to Action News Jax, a city spokesman said “Parks and public works both have crews investigating this issue and they will work quickly to safeguard this area. We will let you know as soon as we have any additional information.” By 6 p.m. Tuesday, the city had fenced off this section of the Riverwalk.
Restoration of the Riverwalk in the area of the Landing will likely be another substantial project at this site. The demolition project will cost approximately $25 million before construction begins on any replacement.
The Riverwalk’s bulkhead issues recall the problems affecting the ongoing reconstruction of Liberty Street three blocks east of the Landing. The section of the street close to the waterfront was closed in 2012 due to structural problems, and part it collapsed into the river in 2015. When he came into office that year, Mayor Lenny Curry advocated a final fix for the space, which included bulkhead repairs, removal of the obsolete Courthouse parking deck, and reconstruction of Liberty Street. However, the structural problems have caused years of delays; the completion date was most recently announced for January 2020.
The Riverwalk has faced other problems, particularly after Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma flooded the city. The lighting system on parts of the Northbank Riverwalk and most of the Southbank Riverwalk have failed. The docks in front of the Landing have been dilapidated for several years, and Friendship Fountain’s water display is no longer working.
However, there have also been major improvements to the Riverwalks and connected areas. In October 2018, the city opened Corkscrew Park, an exercise park on the Riverwalk under the Acosta Bridge. Public bathrooms are now open on both the Northbank and Southbank, and the city has announced it will install several new docks and kayak launches in 2020, helping to activate the waterfront. The Museum of Science and History has announced plans for an $80 million expansion of its Southbank space, while ambitious expansion plans for the Southbank Riverwalk itself are in the works.
Article by J.D. McGregor. Contact J.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org.