Road(s) Closed

Days after heavy rains and washouts, traffic is still cut off to several neighborhoods.

The parked cars lining the street might suggest a party.

But it’s the aftermath of the party – a hillside mingling last week between the rainwater and soil beneath Crystal Springs Drive – that has turned the shoulder there into a temporary parking lot and the road itself into an impassible mess.

“After the party,” said city worker Bruce Oyloe, “we do the cleanup.”

Cleanup – and more importantly stabilization – is required along Crystal Springs Drive near Baker Hill, following the recent downhill migration of several feet of earth on which the road once rested.

Workers are focused on diverting water from the slide area. Soon they’ll replace a broken culvert nearby and bring in large rocks to buttress the road, which is still standing, but protrudes precariously over the newly shorn hillside at its western edge.

Similar scenes are visible elsewhere on the island following last week’s prolific rainfall, which dumped more than six inches over three days and caused an estimated $2.35 million worth of damage to island roads and infrastructure, according to a damage assessment released Monday.

Water has receded from trouble spots, but problems linger, City Engineer Bob Earl said.

“This was an extraordinarily wet, powerful storm,” he said, comparing the damage to that caused by snow- and rain-induced flooding a decade ago.

Along with the northernmost end of Crystal Springs Drive, portions of Hidden Cove and Gertie Johnson roads remain closed indefinitely while crews fix various storm-related problems. New Sweden Avenue in Eagledale reopened this week following shoulder and guardrail damage.

A handful of other roads remain open but will require repair in the near future.

City Councilors will be asked tonight to approve $800,000 in funding – roughly the remainder of the 2007 contingency fund – to pay for repairs, which could be supplemented by county and federal aid.

Some 2008 capital projects may have to be cut to pay for the rest of the work, Earl said.

Much of the damage still needs further assessment to determine the best fix. At Hidden Cove, damage may require the replacement of a culvert that was scheduled for a future upgrade.

It may be best to fast-track the upgrade, Earl said, rather than repair the existing culvert, though the decision ultimately will be the council’s.

Damage is visible in a creekbed below Eagle Harbor Drive.

“If you stand on the shoulder in the eastbound lane you’ll see quite a chasm down there,” Earl said.

Earl said the road has been assessed and is stable, though repairs will be ongoing in the coming weeks. Should more rain add to the problem, the road could be closed to one lane.

At Crystal Springs, repairs are being done by both city and private crews and could take a week or more.

Until the work is done, residents of some 16 homes will be forced to park at the barricades and walk the rest of the way.

Janie Ekberg is among those who’ve had vehicle access to their homes cut off for the past week.

She’s grateful her neighbor warned her of the slide – which didn’t break loose all at once – in time for her and some others to move their cars to the top of the street before it became too dangerous to do so.

“It was terrifying,” Ekberg said. “It was pitch black and rainy and windy and we heard this huge crack. The slope just kept eroding and eroding and eroding.”

Still, she said, things could have been much worse.

Many of her neighbors have had to rent cars and have much farther to walk than she does, not to mention the fact that Bainbridge wasn’t hit nearly as hard as other areas in the state.

“When I see what happened in other places it just breaks my heart,” Ekberg said. “We are so fortunate that for us it’s only an inconvenience.”


The mop-up

Several island roads remain closed or require repair following last week’s storm, which caused an estimated $2.35 million worth of damage to city streets and infrastructure. For information on closures, call the city’s Public Works Department at 842-2016.

Closed roads include:

• Hidden Cove Road at Selfors: Geotechnical evaluation required; could take more than 30 working days to complete.

• Crystal Springs Drive, north of Baker Hill Road: Slide repairs could take more than a week to complete.

• Gertie Johnson Road: Debris removal through this week; no estimated re-opening time.

Open but damaged roads include:

• New Sweden at Pine Street: Reopened following shoulder and guardrail damage.

• Hall’s Hill Road: Minor ditch damage has been repaired; three-ton weight restriction in effect.

• Eagle Harbor Drive at Whiskey Creek: Closed intermittently during repairs, which could take up to two weeks.

• Country Club Road (Toe Jam to Upper Farms): Open during debris removal and damage assessment this week.

• South Beach Drive: Open during debris removal this week. Drainage repairs could take up to eight weeks.

• Sunrise Drive (Valley to Roberts): Open during geotechnical evaluation this week.

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