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STANDOFF: Levee vs. Blue Bridge

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Commission refuses to sign off on moving floodwall water lines without commitment from city to remove structures

 

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by WILLIAM CARROLL, Editor
The new Blue Bridge project may not get off the ground if the Spencer County Levee, Flood Control and Drainage District No.1 does not sign off on current plans to move existing waterlines, which run under the current bridge.Commission member Bobby Smith said that the levee commission voted February 24 to refuse new permits for the levee unless the city of Taylorsville agrees to correct issues with the
levee attributable to the city. The commission took no formal vote Wednesday on the issue due to the lack of a quorum, but significant discussion ensued on the matter.Smith said the city had created several deficiencies in the levee over the years since its initial construction, and that these deficiencies could result in the city being certified as a flood zone.
Taylorsville City Clerk Steve Biven said the city is being asked by the Kentucky Department of Transportation to relocate a water line that runs under the Blue Bridge. Biven said moving the line is a necessary step before KDOT begins with the bridge project. He said that the city went to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and determined that the relocated water lines should go over the levee as opposed to through the levee. According to Biven, the Corps has indicated that the relocation plan appears feasible; however, the levee commission must also agree to the plan before the city can relocate the lines.
Smith appeared unwilling to agree to the relocation, however, without concessions from the city.
“The city has to agree to correct past deficiencies in the levee … to the satisfaction of the Corps of Engineers,” Smith said. “If you don’t want to do that then you don’t get a permit.”
City Commissioner Beverly Ingram responded by asking Smith, “My question is, so you are going to stop the bridge?” to which Smith responded “yes.”
Biven asked Smith to specify what deficiencies he was referring to and pointed out that perhaps the levee commission might be responsible for potential corrections.
“I’m not sure all those issues weren’t addressed years ago,” Biven said. “My understanding is the city, years ago, turned the building over to the floodwall commission. It is going to take time to figure out what’s what.”
Prior to the meeting, Smith took Daniel D. Frank and Nathan H. Bryan of the Army Corp of Engineers, as well as several interested community members, on a tour of the levee and several of the structures constructed on and adjacent to the levee. On top of the levee, south of the 100 block of Garrard Street is one of the buildings in question with the other building being below the levee behind a home on Garrard Street. Both buildings are associated with the old sewage pumping station constructed prior to 1963; and subsequently abandoned.
During the meeting, Smith did not provide an exact list of the deficiencies he was concerned about, but said the list of deficiencies originated in 2008. Smith did provide at least a couple of issues that concerned him, including removal of the pump station.
Ingram then asked the Corps their position on the issue, to which Bryan responded, “It would depend on what sort of levee system the city desires to have. If you want a levee that’s constructed entirely to our standards, then my suggestion would be to arrange for an agreement to get these things corrected.”
Bryan added, “The first step is for the sponsor (levee commission) and the Corps to sit down and determine what items or structures are considered deficient in regards to operation and maintenance. Our responsibility, after identification of these structures, would be to help the sponsor to determine how best to abandon or remove those structures through a permitting action.”
Frank explained the two buildings would be high on the priority list for removal. “The building (at the top of the hill) needs to be removed… removal of the building where the pit is (at the bottom of the hill) to most likely down to the concrete or grade and backfilled with compacted clay material.”
The Corps agreed to provide a letter to the levee sponsor, which would summarize the issues the Corps recommends be resolved in the levee. It is expected that the letter would be presented during the next meeting of the Taylorsville City Commission on Thursday, March 13.