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Marine Construction On-Site Challenges

Marine construction projects are typically a work of art. With the need to work with various elements of the natural environment, contractors must often come up with creative solutions to complete these projects. But what most people don't realize is that while the finished jobs might appear effortless, these projects come with their own set of unique challenges.

Marine contractors have to deal with a wide range of additional risks and issues that land-based projects do not need to worry about. Take a look at some of the main onsite challenges contractors face when they handle each of the following types of marine projects.


Seawalls are a popular option for many waterfront properties, as they provide an effective defense against high tides, strong winds, and other weather conditions. Seawalls look like regular stone or cement walls, but the complexity of underwater construction makes for a more difficult job.

Contractors have to take special care to ensure they design, engineer, and install the seawall properly.

They also need to take into account the area's soil composition and other factors such as water depth and current velocity. Current velocity is especially important, as any pressure from the current can cause the wall to fail and collapse.

To counteract this challenge, your contractor has to use tie-rods or anchors to hold the seawall in place. Tie-rods are a series of steel rods that hold the wall together, while anchors help secure the structure in place.

The seawall installation requires advanced machinery such as hydraulic pumps, concrete mixers, and vibratory tools to put the pieces together. Hydraulic pumps and vibratory tools also help place and compact the concrete for a stronger wall.

However, the presence of sand and small particles in the water can easily clog up these machines and make the job harder. Contractors have to devise strategies to avoid such problems. They use things like clamshell buckets to scoop out sand and debris and dredging equipment to remove larger particles from the seafloor base.


Often built near beaches, boardwalks work to provide easy access to different areas of the beach. These structures are often more complicated than they seem, as there's usually quite a bit of preparation work involved, like clearing out sand and vegetation.

Preparation challenges may include other things like wet and unstable soils and possible pollutants from previous sources. Unstable soils create a challenge when the contractor begins to lay down the foundation.

The job can become eerily complicated if the boardwalk is in an area prone to floods or storm surges. Here, the contractor has to construct the boardwalk's foundation carefully to withstand high tides and other natural forces.

Once the foundation is ready, contractors need to consider various factors such as proper drainage and waterproofing. They have to design the boardwalk to withstand harsh weather conditions, so proper waterproofing is essential.

The contractor might use a combination of sealants, coatings, membranes, and other materials to ensure proper waterproofing. They might also establish a system that can effectively channel water away from the boardwalk to further alleviate the risk of floods.

Boardwalks have to also include guardrails, railings, and other safety features to ensure the safety of those walking along them. These features can sometimes be difficult to install, as the environment may not always allow for secure attachment. To make things even more complicated, some boardwalk designs may also include ramps and other access points for people with disabilities.

Here, contractors must find the right balance between easy access and the safety of all users. They need to first decide on the right material for the surface, then figure out how to grade the structure properly and make sure that any ramps comply with safety regulations.


The installation process for docks can be quite involved. First, the contractor will need to analyze the nearby conditions to determine the best location for the dock. Once they select a site, the contractor will need to construct a foundation for the dock. For this process, they could drive steel pilings into the seafloor or construct a concrete slab.

Usually, this part of the project can be quite labor-intensive, as the contractor may need to use a crane or other heavy equipment to place the pilings and concrete. Contractors must also consider tide effect challenges since they will impact how deep the dock must be to allow for boats and other vessels to access the water.

Once they complete the dock's construction, contractors have to also consider factors such as safety and mooring options. They need to ensure that all parts of the structure are secure and stable, as any loose or unstable sections could present a danger to anyone who wants to use the dock.

As you can already tell, these challenges don't necessarily make or break a construction project.

However, they can certainly delay or prolong the process and add costs to the budget. With this in mind, make sure you only work with an experienced contractor like Abbotts' Construction Services, Inc.

We are a full-service construction company that specializes in waterfront construction projects. With years of experience, we know how to handle these complex challenges and ensure your project completes on time and within budget. Contact us today to get started!

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