To hear Flagler Beach City Manager Larry Newsom describe it, the wreckage of two brand new dune walkovers at North 21st and North 22nd Street could have been avoided but for the Florida Department of Transportation’s poor work. The walkovers were either wrecked or made unusable Friday and Saturday, and will have to be rebuilt, following the Nor’easter type weather.
“I don’t want the people to think that this is a faux-pas from Flagler Beach, because it’s not,” Newsom said Saturday, just as he was receiving reports of the wrecked walkovers. “We didn’t handle this project, and I don’t think it was handled correctly.”
The work was part of the transportation department’s various $22.4 million projects along State Road A1A, including the buried seawall at the north end of town–which is no longer buried–and the reconstruction of a 1.5-mile segment of A1A at the south end of town. Superior Construction did the work, including the reconstruction of the walkovers, under the eye of Adkins Engineering.
“This is not a project that the city managed,” Newsom said, insistent on putting distance between the project and the city or its commission. “I am disappointed, very disappointed in how the project was handled.” He said the new walkovers failed even though much older walkovers weathered storm after storm. The difference, in his assessment, is a matter of construction, including the use of square posts instead of round posts.
The walkovers are of course closed until further notice.
“They’re going to be fixed, but now Flagler Beach is going to control how they’re going to be fixed, at no cost to the taxpayers, I can promise you that,” the city manager said. “I can’t tell you who’s going to pay for it, but I can tell you who’s not going to pay for it.”
The city is itself preparing to bid out a contract to rebuild a number of walkovers.
City Commissioner Rick Belhumeur had taken a long walk along the area of the damaged, surveying it Saturday afternoon. “These walkovers are on FDOT but we just awarded a bid to build many more in which the city will be responsible for the results. You can expect a discussion on that at our meeting on Thursday,” Belhumeur said. When told of Newsom’s insistence that the city’s work will not be as wanting as DOT’s, Belhumeur said: “He’ll have to convince me of that. We still have walkovers in place that have lasted decades, that are destined to be torn out and replaced with new ones. The engineering and installation have to be as sound as the originals. From what I’ve seen, that’s not the case.” He said the engineering should not attempt to “reinvent the wheel.”
Newsom said the “the ones the city has gone out to bid for will not be built the same way.”