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Bridge flooding: Restrictions prevent building at higher level

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By Brandon Mattingly

Flooding waters engulfing the road leading up to and including the bridge on Grundy Home Road is a sight that residents in the area are familiar with, but one that they’re hoping to see less often.

Last Monday showed the type of downpour that can still cause trouble for rural Washington County residents when the newly-constructed bridge on Grundy Home Road was completely submerged just two days before its re-opening.

“It sounds ironic that we build a bridge and it floods before we can get it open, but the crossing we had before was a low-water crossing, and it was closed very frequently,”  County Judge-Executive John Settles said. “With this bridge, we’re saying it’s going to alleviate at least 90 percent of the floodings that we had before.”

The bridge, as well as the bridge on Valley Hill Road, were opened to traffic last Wednesday, and Settles said the flooding caused no damage. Debris littered the new site once the water levels subsided, but the county road crew cleaned the site and had it ready for use on time.

“The water flowed around the approaches like it’s supposed to and went over the bridge, but there was no damage,” Settles said. “The water went down, and we cleaned it off and traffic is flowing like normal.”

The county was only able to build the bridge to a certain height, which means flooding will still occasionally be an issue.

“We were restricted by what FEMA would allow,” Settles said at the Washington County Fiscal Court meeting Friday. “The bridge should have been several feet higher, but then we’d have to build the approaches higher, and they said it’s a damming effect then.”

Residents in the area are familiar with the weather-induced problems the bridge may face, but Settles reminded everyone to be aware of the conditions at all times.

“As in any low-lying area, be cautious and do not drive into standing water,” he said. “Water won’t be standing there. It’ll be flowing, fast.”