Weather delays Fourth Street repairs

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By Dave Taylor

The News-Democrat

Barricades were removed over the weekend from Fourth Street where workmen have been making repairs following a storm drain collapse last fall.

Ongoing wet weather has delayed completion of repairs to the site, according to Carrollton Mayor Dwight Louden. A new drain line has been installed and fill material has been placed in the ditch. Until Friday, April 3, Fourth Street had been closed to through traffic between Highland Avenue and Sycamore Street since repairs began last month. However, motorists could still access sections of the block during the closure.

“We have it open and it’s our intention to try to keep it open,” Louden said Monday. “We still have a lot of work to do to the sides of the street so there may be times when we may have to temporarily close it while we’re in there working.”

Because of the periodic rainfall city officials waited to open the street until they were confident the fill material was compacted sufficiently to support the weight of traffic. The mayor said workmen had hoped to have Fourth Street open sooner “but we didn’t want to tear up anybody’s car.”

Although city officials first noticed the collapse last fall, the drain line had likely been in a state of deterioration for several years. “Over the years it just closed up,” Louden said. He explained that the city had installed the storm drain under the street about 100 years ago. “It was in a low lying area, and they had to bring in a lot of fill dirt at that time” to build up the street in that location, he said.

The original storm drain was made of a clay tile material, according to Ronnie Knight, superintendent of the Carrollton Public Works Department. “It was a big clay pipe,” he said, “24 inches wide. Some repairs had been made down through the years and part of it had been replaced with another type of pipe.”

The city hired Carrollton contractors Luhn & Oak Construction to dig out the old drain with a backhoe excavator, Knight said. City public works department employees made the repairs.

“They replaced the old drain with a corrugated, polyurethane storm drain,” according to Louden, a pipe of the same size as the original storm drain.

While digging the trench for the storm drain workers encountered a water main running down the middle of the street at a depth of five feet, Knight said. Workmen placed a large beam across the ditch and strapped the water main to the beam to help support its weight during the excavation process. Eventually, however, the four-inch wide, black iron pipe broke forcing the city to replace a 12-foot section of the water line.

“What a mess that creates, as you can imagine,” Louden said.

“We had the hole almost repaired when the water main gave,” Knight said. “Those old cast iron pipes can get very brittle. They can break like icicles. That particular water main is on our schedule to replace soon.”

A large volume of water gushing from the broken main washed out much of the fill material forcing workers to wait until the mud had substantially dried to refill the crevice.

Once the ditch had been refilled a layer of plastic was placed over the fill dirt in an attempt to keep it from washing out again. Knight took the plastic off the ditch on Thursday, April 2. “I had been letting it compress naturally. We had placed number two rock over the dirt and let that compress.”

Workmen covered the ditch with fresh gravel and opened the street for the weekend. “There will still be a hump there,” Knight said, so motorists will need to exercise caution when negotiating the street, although “it won’t be enough of a hump to ramp anyone into the air.”

Knight plans to allow traffic to compress the gravel hump for several weeks before making a permanent patch in the street with asphalt.

“There is still a lot of work to do there,” he added. “There is still some dirt work to do and there will be new drains installed on both sides of the street. On the west side of the street we’re going to create a swale” to enable storm water to drain more efficiently to the next large storm drain under Third Street.

While the street closing has been an inconvenience, church folk were able to access the Methodist Church parking lot from Highland Avenue, “and the people who live back in behind there could still get in and out,” Louden said.

“Right now we don’t have a timeline when we’ll be able to get back in there and get the rest of it done but we hope it will be soon.”