HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built it 60 years ago to keep Huntington from flooding, the flood wall has hindered economic development, according to some city leaders.
As a result, they're looking at an "invisible" flood wall that can be assembled when needed. A removable barrier is put in place only when floodwaters reach dangerous levels.
"It blocks (Harris Riverfront Park) from the whole city," Bill Toney of the Municipal Development Authority said of the current flood wall. "The best advertisement is sight. If we have new development down there, people need to see it. Now the floodwall is a barrier."
Dave Duffield, owner of Holderby’s Landing, which is located on the Huntington riverfront, said his business comes almost entirely from downtown.
"This is an asset," Duffield said of the Ohio River. "You can't see it (because of the flood wall). It’s a real benefit to the county and state. We've been talking about this for a long time."
City officials say the biggest obstacles for an “invisible” flood wall are money and approval from CSX. Its train tracks run adjacent to the floodwall through much of downtown.
Toney, Mayor David Felinton and the city’s development director are planning a trip to Louisville, Ky., soon to look at a similar “invisible” flood wall.
It could cost nearly $2 million to tear down the existing flood wall, and the city would need federal funding to help with the project.