Long-awaited Weracoba Creek repair finally on the calendar

Utility poles are braced between the east and west retaining walls to prevent further collapse into Weracoba Creek.
Utility poles are braced between the east and west retaining walls to prevent further collapse into Weracoba Creek. mowen@ledger-enquirer.com

About 11 months after it buckled, the partially washed out stretch of Weracoba Creek’s eastern retaining wall finally will be repaired.

The wall buckled not long after and apparently as a result of flooding last December. Eleven months later, the wall remains bulging out over the creek, braced by five lengths of utility poles jammed between the leaning wall and the concrete base of the wall on the west side.

Erosion has undermined a stretch of the west lane of Cherokee Avenue, causing the concrete curb and gutter to lean down and the asphalt a few feet into the lane to pull away and crack. That has caused the city to block off a stretch of the west lane for almost a year.

On Tuesday, Columbus Council authorized the administration to enter into a contract with Cline Service Corp to repair the wall for $399,995. The work, according to the contract, must meet Georgia Department of Transportation and federal specifications. Cline was the low bidder among four companies and the lone local bid.

The contract covers replacing the retaining wall and performing any repairs to the buckled section of roadway.

Because the damage was due to flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pick up at least some of the $400,000 tab for the repair. But dealing with a federal agency slows down a project, because each step in the process has to be sent up the line for approval, Director of Engineering Donna Newman said.

“It’s the FEMA process” that slowed things down, Newman said. “FEMA will reimburse the city. I don’t know if we’ll get all of it back, but it’s a FEMA project, and they will pay for much of it.”

This is far from the first repair that’s had to be done to the retaining wall. About three years ago, the city had to spend about $650,000 to replace a stretch of the wall. And in 2011, an 80-foot stretch collapsed not far from where a similar 80-foot stretch had caved in a few years before.

Newman said the age of the wall and the way it originally was constructed contribute to the periodic failures.

“The wall was put in in the ’50s and ’60s, and some of the methods they used were inappropriate,” Newman said.

Once work begins on the project, Newman urges drivers on Cherokee to use caution in the area.

“It’s going to be a construction area,” Newman said. “And they will probably have to take it down to two lanes like before during the earlier repairs.”