Kanawha River Project Wrapped Up

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District, has completed a streambank stabilization project in West Virginia’s capitol city. This project addresses streambank erosion along a stretch of U.S. Route 60 and the Kanawha River in Charleston, W.Va. and was authorized under Section 14 of the Flood Control Act of 1946.

The purpose of this project is to provide a cost-effective means to prevent damage to Kanawha Boulevard. A 5,325 foot section of Kanawha Boulevard, located adjacent to the Kanawha River was in danger of eventual failure. Flood flow erosion and recession of fill and soil resulted in extensive stone and fill displacement and bank failure within this critical reach of Kanawha Boulevard extending from the river to the existing pathways and Kanawha Boulevard.

This project was needed because continued failure and erosion in this area would eventually cause the closure of Kanawha Boulevard, a critical road to the Kanawha Boulevard Historic District and a principle arterial highway that services nearly 15,000 vehicles per day and provides access for area residents and businesses.

The previously existing stone treatment was constructed in the late 1930s and is associated with a Public Works Administration (PWA) project. The PWA was formed by the National Industrial Recovery Act on June 16, 1933 as a New Deal program to provide employment, stabilize purchasing power, improve public welfare and revive American industry.

The PWA dredged fine silts and sands from the River, placed the material on the steep riverbank, and then stabilized the area with derrick stone (stone with special shape and size resulting from the method of production). Over time, groundwater flow washed the fine material through the large openings in the stone in a process referred to as “piping,” which compromised the original treatment.

Additionally, frequent high water and flood events further eroded the fill material causing slope failures and displacement of the overlying stone.

The completed project site allows the continued use of two recreational pathways, upper and lower, running parallel to the River and nine sets of stone stairs which provide access between the upper and lower pathway and the River. The pathways can be used for walking, running and biking and the lower stairs can be used to access the River in order to fish, boat or swim.

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