New City Dock ready this week

The Baltimore Sun

The $9 million overhaul of City Dock, Annapolis' most prominent piece of maritime heritage, is scheduled to be completed this week on schedule and within budget, city officials say.

The first renovation of the dock in more than three decades included replacing about 1,000 feet of rotting bulkhead with steel, installing a new boardwalk, adding boat slips to accommodate larger vessels, building rain gardens to prevent runoff into Spa Creek, and planting new landscaping at Susan Campbell B. Park at the end of the dock.

"I think it's a splendid new updated addition to the waterfront," said Mayor Ellen O. Moyer. "We've got a bulkhead that isn't going to blow out, that's going to last awhile. The trees are going in. The plants are going in. We have a new boardwalk. You're not going to get splinters in your feet."

The project was on an accelerated schedule consisting of two daily shifts seven days a week to ensure its completion during the tourist and sailing off-season, and before the Maritime Heritage Festival next month.

"Mother Nature was cooperating with us, in the sense of not dumping so much snow on us this year, but remember, there are several other serious factors involved in a project like this," said Harry Sandrouni, chief engineer at the Department of Public Works. "We were driving sheet piles 80 feet high. The slightest wind will cause an accident. We had to work around wind, we had to fight the tide."

The city in November closed the park and much of City Dock. Contractors brought in 97 steel pilings to reinforce the rotting retaining wall some 80 feet under water. The parking lot was also graded, to ensure that the depth from the dock to the parking lot was 8 inches at all points. Previously, that depth had varied.

Meters placed at each of the 138 parking spots adjacent to the boardwalk have been removed and replaced with a centralized meter system, which allows visitors to pay for parking and display a ticket on their windshield. And in a nod toward a modernizing society, the larger, approximately 20 boat slips, are complemented by an increase in power wattage available to boats. They can also get access to cable television and the Internet.

"So now all these guys with big boats can come in," Sandrouni said.

Asked how much wattage, Sandrouni replied, "It's enough that if you have a boat, you will want to live here all year long."

In addition, three rain gardens filled with mulch extend the length of the parking lot, functioning as a filter for runoff.

Since the last major overhaul in 1970, the city has spent about $500,000 on dock maintenance. The renovation costs were estimated at about $4 million initially, but the City Council approved a substantial increase in the project's budget in 2006 after a study found the bay floor had sunk deeper than initially thought.

The city will cover about half the cost, with the state Department of Natural Resources and the federal government providing the rest.

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