The east bank of the Bronx River, next to the Popham Road Bridge in Scarsdale, has been stabilized following its failure in April 2007 when a severe coastal storm caused uncontrollable amounts of stormwater runoff to cascade over the banks. The storm left a deep gully, devoid of vegetation, cut into the steep embankment next to the bridge. The unstable gully deepened during subsequent storms, dumping more sediment into the river. The stabilization project was completed in the fall 2011.
Thanks to a federal appropriation to the Soil and Water Conservation District and Department of Planning, the County designed and constructed a project that incorporates a “hard” structural element, in the form of large, natural rocks and boulders, into the embankment to strengthen its face. This was combined with a “soft” element in the form of shrubs and trees, including “live stakes” driven into the embankment between the rocks that will root and develop into shrubs. To discourage runoff from cascading over and eroding the embankment again, a low earthen berm, planted with shrubs and trees and covered with a grass seed mixture, was created to divert the water runoff toward a flatter area next to the river.
An objective of this and other similar projects designed by the County is to use natural materials to stabilize stream and river embankments, whether these are field rocks and boulders or native plants. In some cases, the velocity and volume of water flowing in stream and river channels is too great and “harder” structural elements are needed. But due to the strength provided by plant roots, as well as the environmental benefits of vegetation, native plants are employed in bank stabilization projects as much as possible; in some cases, they are used exclusively.
To View the Site: The site is best viewed from the paved pedestrian path in the Bronx River Parkway Reservation. The site is next to the Popham Road Bridge, which takes the road over the river and Bronx River Parkway, in Scarsdale.