Work has started on a new seawall for the East End Cemetery, with completion scheduled before the start of the hurricane season.
Total cost is around $1 million.
An imposing steel curtain 12 feet high separates cemetery visitors from a view of the sea behind it.
But the barrier in its present shape is temporary. The specially coated steel sheet pilings that are the heart of the wall will be hammered into the ground, cut and then covered with concrete. Final elevation will be just one or two feet higher than the roadway to the front, appropriately named Sea View Road.
The cemetery was badly eroded in Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, with sand lost, vaults exposed and some graves disturbed, said Gary Clarke, deputy director for Development and Planning at the Public Works Department.
The area has remained vulnerable since then.
Mr. Clarke is to ensure the project is completed within budget, within the specified time frame and to the specified quality.
The budget includes a little over $300,000 for the pilings, which government purchased. Contract for the work was awarded to Robson Construction for $684,000 after tenders were invited, received and considered by the Central Tenders Committee.
The budget also provides for consultant fees and the services provided by PWD to the Ministry for Communication, Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Clarke said.
Preliminary work began in December. A team from VW Marine Ltd.., sub-contracted by Robson Construction, started installing the sheet pilings on 18 January.
The cemetery is 385 feet wide and the walls will wrap more than 100 feet around both sides, for a total of 600-plus linear feet.
Site Superintendent Peter Held explained that the pilings, each 30 feet long, interlock. They are hoisted into place one by one with a crane and straps. Each time the straps are replaced by a four-ton vibratory hammer, which presses the piling into the ground.
In some places the pilings extend nine feet below sea level, Mr. Held said.
After the pilings are all in place and cut, Robson Construction will do the concrete work. This includes capping, a decorative finish on the seaside and a staircase from the cemetery to the beach.
The wall will curve to deflect wave action and eliminate the cause of erosion, Mr. Clarke said.
Much of the material that washed away during Ivan was recovered and it will be used to backfill the area between the wall and the grave sites.
The wall will stabilise the grounds and add about 10,000 square feet of usable space. Mr. Clarke explained that government acquired two adjoining parcels of land to expand the cemetery.
Completion of the East End Cemetery seawall is scheduled for 21 April. Hurricane season begins 1 June.