Originally created 09/26/00

Drainage gets city's attention



Money left over from this past series of sales tax projects likely will pay for a drainage study of Rae's Creek in the Forest Hills Racquet Club area.

But if, in their surveys, engineers do find problems and recommend repairs, the city will not have money available to pay for a fix.

"We've got to the tune of millions of dollars of work that, quite frankly, is not going to get done," Commissioner Willie Mays said.

The $13,325 hydrology and hydraulic study, approved unanimously by the Engineering Services Committee of the Augusta Commission, will identify what, if any, drainage problems exist between Jackson Road and Walton Way, which includes West Lake Forest Drive, Lake Aumond and the tennis club's grounds.

The funding item will be placed on the consent agenda of the next full commission meeting, scheduled for Oct. 5, where it will have to receive final approval before it will be funded.

Residents of the west Augusta subdivision have said repeatedly that a poorly constructed bridge on the tennis club's property paired with a widening project upstream on Jackson Road have exacerbated what already was a sensitive creek basin.

"The study will identify any projects that need to be included in the construction work program," said Drew Goins, assistant public works director.

But the likelihood of funding coming forward in the next five years to pay for the projects is not good.

Two channelization projects in the Rae's Creek basin were among nearly 30 that were absent from the list of projects to be funded by the fourth phase of the sales tax.

Instead, a $59 million general obligation bond was proposed to pay for the drainage improvements. The issue failed to attract the approval of voters in a Sept. 19 special election, with only 35 percent voting in favor.

Engineers slated to perform the hydrology and hydraulic studies to Rae's Creek wrote in a proposal to the Public Works Department that they would consider three areas of "known concern" in the basin:

The "questionable" capacity of the Lake Aumond Spillway at Walton Way

Periodic flooding on West Lake Forest Drive

Recurring flooding at Forest Hills Racquet Club.

"It is believed the flooding in West Lake Forest Drive is a byproduct of the questionable spillway capacity at Walton Way, and the flooding in Forest Hills Racquet Club is believed to be the result of an undersized culvert at Court Side Drive," wrote Dennis Welch, a project engineer with Cranston, Robertson & Whitehurst engineers. "It is our intent to make recommendations for alleviating the problems for the three areas in question."

After engineers are instructed to begin the study, they estimate it will take less than 60 days to complete their analysis.

"They'd never know it because they're not here when it floods, but I'm here, filming it," said Fred Layman, the owner of Forest Hills Racquet Club, who has lobbied heavily for the county's involvement since flooding June 20 cost him thousands in repairs. "They have to have it all in writing, but it's very apparent by frequency of floods with the minimal rains we get that there is a problem."

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.