Southbank Riverwalk reconstruction to begin

Project should be complete by next September

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Called a jewel of Jacksonville when completed in 1985, the Southbank Riverwalk has attracted people and businesses to the St. Johns River for nearly three decades.

For nearly half that time, Channel 4 has documented deterioration and safety concerns with the wooden structure.  After years of discussion, work is to begin this week to tear down the original Riverwalk to replace it with a concrete structure.

First to go will be the two buildings on either side of the Main Street Bridge, then the boardwalk will be taken down in segments.

"There will be significant construction out here," said Dave DeCamp, spokesman for Mayor Alvin Brown. "We want people to know we are dealing with a Riverwalk, the river and adjacent land."

But with demolition about to begin, Channel 4 has learned there may not be enough money to replace it all.

But half a decade later, that funding may not be enough to replace the entire span.

DOCUMENT WITH IMAGES: Southbank Riverwalk gets overhaul

The Haskell Company, which has the contract to rebuild the Southbank Riverwalk, has guaranteed the price will not exceed $15 million, so the last piece, the section east of the Wyndham Hotel may also remain a wooden structure.

"As we balance the budget and review the material cost that continue to rise and other factors, we will decide if we do the full extension to the Duval County School Board Building," DeCamp said.

City officials say construction will occur in segments, so access to the river taxis, fishing and other waterfront activities can continue. 

The project is expected to take one year.

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