NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- Work is underway to stabilize a flood wall along the Roaring Branch that was battered last year by Tropical Storm Irene.
The concrete flood wall along County Street near what is known as the Brooklyn Bridge sustained some damage in August 2011. Fast-moving flood water pounded the wall hour after hour, and debris, including a car, slammed into the wall. The wall stood strong, but sink holes emerged on the land side that town workers quickly filled.
After the storm the wall and sink holes were inspected by the Army Corps of Engineers. "The corps came down to take a quick look at them and then they sent down some engineers to take a closer look at them," said Daniel Monks, the town's planning director.
The repair work -- paid for entirely by the corps --began last week.
The repair plan, mostly created by the town's engineering firm Milone & MacBroom, involves drilling into broad base below the earth, according to Monks. Concrete will then be pumped under high pressure into those holes to fill any voids underneath. The holes will then be sealed back up, he said.
The project also includes replacing large rocks, or rip rap, along the flood wall to help protect it. "There was rip rap in front of that wall before but it was completely washed away," Monks said.
The town has already completed minor repairs to the bridge, including replacing rip rap along the bridge abutments.
"That whole area should be very well protected," Monks said. "That whole area should be repaired and ready for a large storm. Nothing is perfect and nothing is absolutely immune to damage, but we think we'll be in at least as good a shape as we were before."
The town has also completed repairs further down river to the levee that runs alongside the Mount Anthony Union High School property. The earthen wall sustained "severe damage," but was quickly repaired by the town according to corps standards, Monk said. That work, which cost between $200,000 and $400,000, is part of a reimbursement request the town has pending with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The work had to be completed quickly because floor waters had washed away rip rap and was beginning to wash the earthen wall out, Monks said. Another hour or so of high, swift water would likely have led to flooding of the school, he said.
The flood wall system was constructed by the corps before control was handed over to the town. Most repairs are still eligible for corps funding, however, Monks said.
"We obtained the right-of-way, they built it, then they gave it to the town to maintain. As long as we maintain it there's this possibility that if damage is done to it they'll fix it," Monks said. "The unfortunate thing about the corps is that they just don't move quickly. So, if you do have an immediate situation like where, for instance, the levee was basically blown out, we couldn't wait for them to design something, bid it out and then come up."
The work is expected to be completed in 10 to 14 days.