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Flowery Branch may have to pay for culvert work itself
Officials want to move quickly, but state would be slow to help
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Flowery Branch likely will have to go it alone in spending as much as $125,000 to replace a culvert on a portion of Spring Street that collapsed Dec. 9.

The city’s insurance company has rejected a claim because the culvert is not "covered infrastructure," City Planner James Riker said Tuesday.

And city officials learned Tuesday that to qualify for the Georgia Department of Transportation’s emergency aid program, Flowery Branch would have to go through "a review process that would take a minimum of eight weeks."

"It would require submittal of a hydrologic study, a soils foundation investigation report and construction plans that would have to be reviewed by (the DOT’s) bridge design division," Riker said.

Mayor Diane Hirling said she was disappointed by the DOT’s response.

"Basically, we’ll go into April, maybe even into May, and that’s the minimum," she said of the process.

"The eight weeks is just the approval of all the documents and everything like that. I don’t think it’s fair to or in the best interest of our residents to wait until then to correct the situation."

Hirling said she also was disappointed the Georgia Emergency Management Agency has turned down providing the city with help.

To pay for the work, the city is left with draining the $104,000 it has left over from the 1 cent special purpose local option sales-tax program that expired this year.

The city has started a new six-year sales-tax program.

The culvert over Mulberry Creek washed away after a couple days of steady rains, stranding Quad Oaks apartment residents who rely on Spring Street as their way in and out of the 50-unit complex.

The city has built a temporary road across the creek.

City Manager Bill Andrew told Flowery Branch City Council last week that the city is keeping a close eye on the condition of the temporary road, especially during rainfalls.

Riker said Tuesday the city has hired a contractor, Espinosa Construction Services of Flowery Branch, to handle the project, and has ordered the materials for the project.

"It’s just a matter of getting the materials produced ... and getting them shipped, and then having the contractor start the work," Riker said.

Materials could arrive the second week of January and then construction could begin, he added.

City officials first thought the project could cost between $75,000 and $100,000.

"The project is a little bigger than originally anticipated," Riker said.

He told the City Council last week that city officials had determined that "the culvert was very undersized when you calculate the drainage area, the watershed area, the flows to it.

"What was there was incapable of handling a 10-year flood."

Flowery Branch officials are looking at construction options that will handle up to 100-year flooding with current and built-out development in the area.

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