The Power of Water

We have had some rain around here lately. We need it but it got me to thinking about a hard rain we had back at the end of May. One of the two greenways I ride on my commute is named the Black Creek Greenway because it follows Black Creek. Now Black usually has at least a little water in it but mostly it collect run-off during a rain and moves it downstream to either Lake Crabtree of Crabtree Creek. The path has a series of wooden bridges as it crosses back and forth over the creek. I can always see how high the water has been by seeing the debris stuck in the rails of the bridges.


In the picture above, you can see debris about halfway up the rails, easily 2 feet above the bridge which is easily 2 or even 3 feet above the normal water level. So a hard rain can really raise the creek level.


But the rain we had at the end of May did something I had not seen on this path before. It pretty well destroyed the pavement on one side of the bridge while leaving the bridge itself undamaged. In the next picture you can see how a section (about 20 feet long) has been shifted and buckled.


The city quickly put up some cones to warn travelers and that was all that was needed in the short term. It was still passable, but you did need to slow down. Within a couple of days they had redone the section of pavement and as is well again.


The lesson for people advocating paths in their area is to make sure the budget covers not just the original installation of the trail but maintenance as well. Being left is a bad state of repair will quickly ruin the reputation of a path and all the critics will come out of the woodwork to point out what a waste of money the project was from the start. With a maintenance budget and plan, the path was quickly repaired and I imagine all the regular users were impressed with the result and speed of repair.