City Receives $965,333 Federal Congressionally Directed Spending Grant for Peirce Island Road Resiliency Project

October 16, 2023

The City of Portsmouth was notified on September 29, 2023 that it has received $965,333 in Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) from the Federal Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Grant Program through the NH Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the Peirce Island Road Resiliency Project. The City applied for the grant for a project to provide consistent access to the Pierce Island Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), a critical municipal service.

“The City greatly appreciates the efforts made by Senator Jeanne Shaheen to advance this grant application through the Congressionally Directed Spending process,” said City Manager Karen Conard. “A grant of nearly $1 million significantly reduces the potential impact on taxpayers while affording the City the opportunity to invest in protecting our critical infrastructure.”

The project is to elevate a 400-foot-long section of Peirce Island Road and the adjacent parking area to three feet above the current 100-year floodplain. Additionally, a portion of the packed gravel parking area will be replaced with grass pavers and vegetation to improve stormwater management. Pierce Island Road, the sole access road to the critical infrastructure facility, currently floods during spring high tides and storm events. Raising the road approximately 3 feet above its current lowest point will elevate it above the 100-year flood line and protect it against predicted sea level rise. The raised road will also offer greater protection to the force mains under the road that carry wastewater to the WWTF.

No impacts to the rocky shore, salt marsh or marsh elder are anticipated. The project will maintain the existing walking trail and vegetation north of the road supplementing the existing site with a narrow buffer of stone and upland plantings between the trail and the road to protect the road from high water and wave action during storms. The existing gravel lot will be raised and replaced with a more permeable reinforced turf parking area and a grass paver driveway.

These surfaces decrease runoff by promoting absorption of stormwater.

As FEMA announced in July, “Pursuant to Executive Order 11988 (Floodplain Management) and 11990 (Wetlands) and Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) implementing regulations at Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 9, FEMA hereby provides final notice of its decision to provide Legislative Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program funding for an action located in a floodplain and near a wetland...Due to the nature of the area surrounding the project (i.e. large tidal basin), this action would not have a detrimental impact to the floodplain.”

The City will comply with conditions set forth in the NH Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) Wetlands Permit to minimize any potential impacts to nearby wetlands.

Peirce Island welcome sign