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Railroads plan to build culverts hits snag in Flowery Branch
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Norfolk Southern Railway Co.’s plans to build new culverts at crossings in Flowery Branch have been put off indefinitely, as the company awaits permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to work on Corps property.

Officials requested permits from the corps in May, hoping to start construction this month and finish by fall, but they have since learned Corps right of way “is now required for new construction,” said Rick Harris, railroad spokesman.

That wasn’t the case in 1957, when the original culverts were installed and the Corps was building Lake Lanier,

“Once the easements are secured and the permits are issued by the Corps, we will start construction on the culverts,” Harris said.

The need for the projects came to light during May 2013 flooding that put underwater a stretch of Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway between the Flowery Branch sewer plant and Wayne Drive.

Norfolk Southern is looking to install two lines of 9-foot-by-9-foot box culverts where Flowery Branch Creek flows under railroad tracks. And it is looking to put one 9-foot-by-9-foot box culvert at a tributary some 250-300 feet south of the creek, Harris said.

All the culverts will be made of reinforced concrete.

“The Flowery Branch easement is a little bit more complicated than the tributary easement, so it’s possible we may get the tributary easement sooner than the Flowery Branch easement,” Harris said.

“If we get approval for the tributary culvert first, we’ll start construction there.”

The railroad has awarded a contract for the projects to Scott Bridge Co. of Opelika, Ala.

Later this month, Scott Bridge plans to begin some preliminary work.

“They’ll likely deliver some construction materials, including a crane, to the site by the end of July,” Harris said. “There are some things we can do in advance of (construction).

“Right now, we’re proceeding with some utility adjustments along the right of way in preparation for the time when we can start construction.”

The flooding did spur a lawsuit against the railroad from Alan and Mike Wayne, owners of the Wayne Center, where tenants were under several feet of water.

The high waters — basically the result of 7 inches that fell in a few hours — also caused roads and other culverts to collapse.

One of the worst disaster scenes was Stephens Road near Pipsissewa Drive. A hole in the road at Mud Creek drew onlookers and Atlanta TV news helicopters alike.

Another hard-hit area was a heavily traveled section of McEver Road near the Flowery Branch-Oakwood border. Water flooded a culvert on Mud Creek, washing away the road.

The city of Flowery Branch also has a major project in development stemming from the flood — replacing a culvert at Flowery Branch Creek and Spring Street with a bridge. According to a legal notice published in June, the city expects to award the project on Aug. 7.

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