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Railroad moving ahead on Flowery Branch culvert repair
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Norfolk Southern Railway Co. is moving forward on one of two culverts it has planned to repair, while the second one will likely be on hold until the first of the year.

“We have begun the first step in construction of the new culvert on the tributary location,” said company spokesman Rick Harris, “which is, of course, the most southern location of the two locations that we’re installing box culverts.”

Norfolk Southern plans to install two lines of 9-foot-by-9-foot box culverts where Flowery Branch Creek flows under the railroad tracks; the project the company has started on is installing one 9-foot-by-9-foot box culvert at a tributary around 300 feet south of the creek.

The two areas came to light during a May 2013 flood that put a stretch of Atlanta Highway between the Flowery Branch sewer plant and Wayne Drive underwater.

“Pretty much everything that’s going on now or that has happened is site preparation,” Harris said. “In mid-August, we did start to build the cofferdam, which is being built so that we can enable the area to dry out before we install the box culverts.

“It’s a fairly time-consuming process, and that’s going on now.”

Once the cofferdam can seal off the area, workers will begin on the culvert.

“One of the interesting things to me as a railroader ... is it’s being engineered in such a way so that there are really no trains that will be rerouted or impeded as a result of this because they will (have a) temporary bridge during the process,” Harris said. “There will probably only be two short periods of time when train operations will be disrupted at all. One is when they put in the temporary bridge and two is when they remove the temporary bridge at the tail-end of the project.

“Both of these will take place in less than a day each, probably, so that there is a very minimal disruption of train operations while this is being constructed.”

If there aren’t any unexpected delays, Harris estimates this first project will be completed early next year.

For the second project at Flowery Branch Creek, Norfolk Southern continues to wait for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s contingent on acquisition of the permanent easement, which would be granted by the corps,” Harris said. “We have completed (that process) on our end (with) the survey requirements, and have submitted those to the corps.

“We hope to have that easement before the end of the year, or certainly by the time we finish the work on the tributary’s box culvert.”

The same 2013 rains created a headache in other areas, including Flowery Branch’s Spring Street.

City officials are still in the process of finding a company to repair that damage, also by putting in a box culvert.

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