New plan aims to restore portions of sea wall along Tidal Basin, West Potomac Park

The National Park Service is seeking public comment on a $100 million project that would restore portions of the sea wall along the Tidal Basin and West Potomac Park in D.C.

Area of proposed work. (Courtesy NPS)

The oldest section of the seawall is over 130 years old. Over the years, the wall has settled and poor drainage regularly causes flooding, which hurts the resources and trails along the Tidal Basin and in West Potomac Park. The oldest section of the wall was built in 1890.

“We are looking to eliminate the settlement of these sea walls, these walls are very old,” said
Tammy Stidham, deputy associate regional director with lands and planning at NPS.

“These need to look like they do today, except in better shape,” she added during a meeting discussing the project.

The comment period closes Sept. 12. Comments can be mailed or recorded on the NPS website, where more details about the seawall project can be reviewed. The comment period opened on Tuesday.

If all goes as planned, work will begin in 2025.

Stidham said daily flooding along the east side of the Tidal Basin has been a serious concern. The plan is to rebuild and elevate the seawall, creating protections for trees and vegetation in the area.

Over in West Potomac Park, the north section has undergone repairs in the past. The plan now is to install a micro pile through the existing wall down to the foundation, what officials call a less intrusive solution.

One goal of the overall project is to keep the land safe from flooding during routine events and also help as weather patterns change.

The park and Tidal Basin receive thousands of visitors in late March and April as people view the cherry blossoms, however, some sections of the walking paths are regularly closed due to flooding.

NPS is currently performing site investigations, which will last about four months before beginning the environmental assessment phase, a 13-month process. Plans to secure a design contractor are expected to begin next year and extend through 2024. Construction in the Tidal Basin would then begin in 2025, followed by renovations in West Potomac Park.

NPS is still working on estimating what the project will cost but said it will be over $100 million, depending on the design.

“It’s going to be a significant investment. The Great American Outdoor Act is our funding stream for this,” said Sean Kennealy, deputy superintendent for the National Mall Memorials Park.

Kennealy also stressed that there are also plans to keep nearby memorials open during construction.


Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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