A section of a Marshfield seawall leaning nearly five feet toward the ocean and away from the eroded soil behind it is temporarily stable, authorities said.
"It's not in a good spot right now," said Marshfield Police Lieutenant Paul Taber, town emergency management director. "It's leaning quite a bit."
Boulders are temporarily buttressing the approximately 450-foot section of wall, authorities said.
The widening of the gap between the wall and soil occurred mostly within the 24 hours since Wednesday morning. But the wall has been deteriorating since big storms struck the coast this winter, said Marshfield Deputy Fire Chief Jack Beagle.
The area is taped off. “The public should be aware of it and just stay away from it,” Beagle said.
Crews were working on the section off of Surf Avenue between Constitution Road and Farragut Road until about 4:30 a.m. and are resuming work, including more boulder placement during low tides today, authorities said.
“We don’t want to see it degrade any further,” Taber said.
The wall survived high tide Wednesday night and did not shift much more, said David Carriere, superintendent of Marshfield Public Works.
About 15 nearby homes are safe due to the emergency reinforcement, he said, but the town will have to spend money for both interim and permanent fixes as sand continues to wash out into the ocean.
“The Department of Public Works shored it up, and there’s no threat of houses washing into the ocean,” Taber said. “The wall is probably not going to move much more than it has.”
Interim work could cost the town $300,000 to $500,000, Carriere said. Permanent work – which rings in at about $2,500 per foot of new wall constructed – could cost about $1.25 million, a figure that does not include demolition and old wall removal, he added.
Town officials have been in touch with state and federal emergency management officials and are working to identify funding to fix the wall, Taber said.
Seawalls are typically built to last about 50 years, Carriere said. This wall was built in the 1930s. Minor repairs, such as maintenance to the top of the wall and preservation of stairways, have been made to the wall throughout the years. Wall section replacement started in the south and has been working north, Carriere said.
"This was the next area in the scope of work," Carriere said. These walls needed replacement, but there are other sections of wall that could be reinforced or repaired, and the budget could be stretched further."
To revamp all the town’s sea walls over a five-year period could cost about $50 million, he said.
"It's money that I don't think any community has right now," Carriere said.
An emergency meeting between the board of selectmen and public works department is scheduled to take place tonight, Carriere said.
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