Low Ground

Published 9:08 am Monday, June 18, 2012

WINDSOR – The town of Windsor found little help from a study sanctioned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The study, conducted by Sungate Design Group of Raleigh, said changes in the bridge recently constructed over the Cashie River on King Street would actually help with two, five and 10 year flooding and would cause minimum effect on a 100-year flood.

Bob Capehart, Resident Engineer of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, officially presented the report to the board Thursday morning.

“If nothing were there – the bridge or the roadway – there would be very little change,” he said. “The bridge and the roadway are not really the issue. The issue is Windsor floods.”

The engineer then highlighted some of the changes that have happened in Windsor over the past several years including the building of ball fields and shopping centers and the U.S. 17 bypass. He said those had led to water moving to the river a lot quicker.

Capehart said Windsor’s flood plain has changed several times and actually changed between the initial study of placing the new bridge over the Cashie River and when the study was done by Sungate.

According to the study, .09 feet or slightly more than one inch of water increase would be added by the new bridge for a 100-year flood. If the bridge were removed completely, it would decrease the water level less than one inch.

Sungate Design Group also looked at the possibilities if an overflow bridge was built and two buildings currently located in the causeway were removed. The result was that less than 0.01 feet would be changed by making those alterations.

The group also looked at constructing a 50-foot wide canal at Peterson Lane and suggested doing so would help less than one-half of one inch in the water level.

Looking at smaller numbers such as a two-year flood, the new bridge actually would lower water by approximately two inches. A five-year flood would show a decrease of more than two inches and a 10-year flood would show a decrease at near nine inches.

“During the two, five and 10-year storm events, the U.S. 17 Business roadway does not overtop; therefore all of the flood water must pass through the bridge opening,” the report reads. “This is contrast with the 100-year storm event where 60 percent of the flood water overtops the road.

“The new bridge at U.S. 17 Business is longer and has a larger bridge opening that the old bridge,” it continues. “The bridge opening for the old bridge was 1,296 feet squared and the bridge opening for the new bridge is 1,459 feet square. During storms which do not overtop the roadway, the larger bridge opening results in a lower water surface elevation.”

After hearing the report, Windsor Mayor Jim Hoggard said it was obvious there wasn’t much that could be done to help with flooding as far as roads.

“The items on this list, if you did them all, it would be a very, very minimal impact for the 100-year flooding,” he said.

Hoggard said the town was okay with the flooding when it was just to the 10-year level.

“It seems that between the 10-year and 100-year, we get clobbered,” he said.

Capehart said it was likely that it was closer to the 75-year level.

Commissioner David Overton asked about the possibility of damming water and Capehart asked if he meant at Hoggard Mill Creek. Overton said he did.

Capehart said in his opinion it would help.

Hoggard asked if the town wanted to move forward, would it have to hire an engineering firm. Capehart said it would and that just a study would likely cost quite a bit of money.

The board discussed the matter at some length, but took no action on the matter.

In addition to the town board, Bertie County Commissioner Charles L. Smith and Bertie Emergency Management Coordinator Mitch Cooper were on hand to hear the report.