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Heavy rain causes Founder's Park construction setback

July 9th, 2013 9:52 pm by Gary B. Gray

Heavy rain causes Founder's Park construction setback


Heavy rain and saturated soil caused a section of one of the old Brush Creek culvert walls to collapse late last week, prompting no flooding problems but consuming about a week’s worth of labor for Thomas Construction Co. which hauled the old material away and constructed a temporary barrier.


The wall, which was nearing the end of its usefulness at Founder’s Park while workers realigned the creek, succumbed to the force of water runoff from as far away as Walmart and Lone Oak Road. A slab from the old wall, fortified with heavy rock and backed by a plastic retainer is being used to stave off potential problems.


Meanwhile, special block material is stacked up along the creek and will be used to build seawalls on both sides, which will expand in width until reaching the new park’s surface. This material will be used to a point where the creek takes a turn to the south just in front of the new 200-seat amphitheater. At that point, new 12-foot-high walls will be constructed. 


“One side of the culvert fell down in the winter,” said Bill Hughes, Thomas Construction superintendent. “The last rains we had — it was just too much for the other old wall. It happened late last week, and we finished taking it out Monday. But the water has receded about 1 foot since that time. Nothing newly constructed fell down, and we’ve set up barrier walls temporarily until we begin building the seawalls.” 


Hughes said the water never topped the creek’s banks, and the incident did not slow progress on the $2.8 million, 5-acre project, but “it did cost us about a week.”


With potential flooding problems apparently no longer a threat, workers are now making progress on the three-tiered amphitheater toward the north side of the park. The semi-circular seating faces the west, positioning visitors so that water is flowing toward them. 


A tract of land along State of Franklin Road is the first of several planned downtown construction projects aimed at reducing flooding, which also will include an open creek channel with sitting walls and a large green space for play and special event activities.


The site is somewhat of a launching pad for flood remediation and downtown revitalization. It has in the past been labeled Warehouse Commons and later Founder’s Park. Johnson City has ended its public online voting to name the park and should be announcing the park’s name soon. The very visible project is taking shape between Wilson Avenue, Main and Commerce streets and the Norfolk Southern Railway tracks.


This initial phase of the city’s $30 million long-range flood mitigation plan also is being built to please the eye and invite private interests to think twice before deciding on another community in which to invest. 


Brush Creek will meander through the park and include three waterfalls with the last one cascading into an area at the end of the park that then will be funneled under the railroad tracks. The park is being funded by stormwater fee revenues.


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