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Road repairs ongoing after heavy May rains
McEver Road stretch battered by floods may reopen Friday
Portions of the failed culvert rest Thursday morning on McEver Road near where crews are building a new culvert after heavy rains in May washed out a portion of the road. Above average rainfall this summer has slowed down repairs.

A well-traveled stretch of McEver Road between Oakwood and Flowery Branch is set to reopen as scheduled Friday in South Hall, nearly 2 1/2 months after torrential rain devastated the area.

Work on a double-box culvert was completed earlier this month, but excavated material from the site has been too wet to compact as backfill around the culvert, City Manager Stan Brown said.

"Weather has had a major impact on the project," he said.

Workers had to pull dirt from city property on W. White Road for the backfill, which was completed last week. Paving and striping the road, plus guardrail installation, should take place this week.

"The road should open to traffic by the end of the day Friday," Brown said.

Workers have been fighting a soggy summer, with more than 14 inches falling in July alone.

"The contractor has been as innovative as (possible) to keep the project going, even with some austere and constrained work-site conditions," Brown said.

McEver was closed between H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway and Radford Road after a May 19 storm that dumped up to 7 inches in several hours throughout the South Hall area. The deluge especially overwhelmed Flowery Branch, where Atlanta Highway was under water between the city’s sewer plant and Wayne Drive.

Farther north on Mud Creek, a culvert also failed at Stephens Road, east of McKenzey Lane and near where the creek spills into Lake Lanier.

That section of road may reopen about two weeks after Hall County schools start the 2013-14 academic year, said Hall County Engineer Kevin McInturff.

Students return Aug. 12.

"We just had so many rain delays," he said, adding that backfilling should start today.

A culvert repair on Malibu Ridge, which is near Spout Springs Road in South Hall, should be finished before school starts, McInturff said.

Since May 19, public works crews and contractors have often dealt with fierce thunderstorms, too.

Chris Rotalsky, assistant public works director in Gainesville, said the city has worked through a variety of storm-related issues, including trees falling across roadways, such as Green Street and Forrest Avenue. Last week, after a storm, three trees fell on Mountain View Road.

"We’re in a constant cycle right now of cleaning out stormwater drains, investigating drainage issues and checking pipes and outfalls," he said.

A mid-July storm forced the city to close Lenox Drive off Athens Highway in east Gainesville after heavy rains caused a part of the road, located about 600 feet past Cannon Ridge Court, to be undermined.

"We’re still in the process of addressing the problem," Rotalsky said. "We have a contractor in place who is trying to prepare to remove the old culvert and install a new (one)."

Completion is scheduled for early September.

"Weather has really hurt us in that process," Rotalsky said. "I think everybody is aware of that. We’ve had some areas of town that have had extreme concentrations of rainfall."

The county has thousands of culverts in neighborhoods, streets and other developed areas, and officials have the state-mandated requirement to keep track of, inspect and maintain them. Hall, Flowery Branch and Oakwood hold stormwater discharge permits under the Georgia Water Quality Control Act and the Federal Clean Water Act.

The county is required to inspect 20 percent of culverts each year.

With this year’s rains, "we’re trying to keep an eye on them as much as we can," McInturff said. "We’ve got numerous drainage projects (countywide)."

But troubles can crop up suddenly.

On July 20, part of C. Rogers Road in North Hall was washed out after a severe storm, leaving about 100 families without a way out of their neighborhood. The Hall County Sheriff’s Office ended up using its dive boat to ferry residents as needed from Clarks Bridge Park to a private dock at the end of C. Rogers Road.

The road was repaired and by the next day, residents again had access to Ga. 284/Clarks Bridge Road.

Some projects can be handled quickly, while others can’t, Brown said, referring to McEver at Mud Creek.

"Due to the constrained location, the size of the creek, existing flood plain, required utility relocations and traffic that (uses) McEver Road, this was not a quick-fix project," he said.

"We understand that this project has been a major inconvenience for area residents and motorists, and we thank them for their patience."