It took an act of Congress — literally — to begin flood proofing the town of Grundy located in Buchanan County in western Virginia.
The town is situated among the Appalachian Mountains with the Levisa Fork River running through the town and its tributary, Slate Creek, located to the north. These two waterways have caused devastating floods in the town over the years prompting the need for a levee to protect the town against that type of flooding in the future.
The Route 460 Grundy Floodproofing Project will give the town a new highway and flood protection as well as relocate the downtown business district to a new site across the Levisa Fork River. A $24.2 million contract was awarded to Bizzack Inc. in Lexington, Ky., for the 0.7-mi. (1.1 km) flood proofing of Route 460, which is being built on a new location through the heart of downtown Grundy.
Devastating floods in years past, including the flood of 1977 that nearly destroyed all of downtown Grundy and the flood of 1984, prompted the town and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District, to evaluate various flood control plans. Grundy was one of five communities within the Appalachian region targeted for flood protection by the Corps in the 1981 Water and Energy Appropriations Act. Since the mid 1980s, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) also was reviewing improvements and alignment options for Route 460 in the Grundy area.
State Delegate Don McGlothlin and U.S. Congressman Rick Boucher persuaded the Corps and VDOT to review the potential benefits that would result from a joint effort. According to Ken Brittle, VDOT’s construction engineer of the Bristol District, the Corps and VDOT found that a joint project would produce “reduced costs for the Corps and for VDOT.”
VDOT’s original plan for improvements to Route 460 included having the highway bypass the town. When combined with the Corps flood control plan, VDOT’s improvements would take 460 through the town rather than bypassing it. Additionally, combining money for the project would meet non-federal cost sharing requirements of the town at no cost to the Town of Grundy. The entire cost of flood proofing Grundy will cost upwards of $100 million, said Brittle, including Bizzack’s contract.
Chuck Crabtree, executive director of the Industrial Development Authority for the Town of Grundy, oversees the project for the town and is the self-proclaimed “referee and go-between” for all entities involved, which includes the Corps, VDOT and even Norfolk Southern Railroad. He coordinates meetings and said that it is “critical that you meet and talk” every week with those working on the project.
Crabtree explained that the town “could not financially afford to do the project” without Congress bringing together the Corps and VDOT.
Crabtree continued, “[They] were able to make the project happen and cut the cost in half by creating a partnership to get it done.”
Bizzack started work in May 2006 on the contract to relocate Route 460, which includes the removal of flood prone buildings. The contract also entails building the new four-lane Route 460 above the 1977 flood elevation and having the roadway embankment act as a levee to protect downtown Grundy from future flooding. According to VDOT, the ring wall levee will come down the south side of Slate Creek and tie into the embankment of the new Route 460 at the bridge over the creek.
“The base for 460 will be on top of the levee,” Brittle explained. “VDOT is building the levee with our contractor to the Corps’ specification as part of the road. The new ring wall levee will protect the Town of Grundy from flooding from the Levisa River and Slate Creek around the town.”
Not only will the new Route 460 be an improvement to prevent flooding, it also will be an improvement aesthetically. Brittle described the old 460 as “a hodge-podge” that looked “like an urban section of roadway.” When completed, Route 460 will be a modern and efficient highway that also provides flood protection for the town.
So far, Bizzack has demolished those buildings in the downtown district that have been marked for removal to make room for the new 460. Bizzack’s subcontractor performing the demolition is E. Luke Greene Company Inc., headquartered in Strawberry Plains, Tenn.
Bizzack has subcontracted Bush & Burchett Inc. in Allen, Ky., to build the main street bridge. Work on this structure has not started but should begin soon. Lester Wimpy, president of Bizzack, stated that the bridge is not a very large structure. There is an existing bridge, which will be removed, and the new bridge, a couple hundred feet long, will be built in its place on 460.
Wimpy also stated that his company is getting ready to start excavation as soon as the environmental permit is obtained. The contractor plans to use a Hitachi excavator and 30 and 40-ton (27 and 36 t) Volvo trucks during excavation. Bizzack, according to Wimpy, will have to move approximately 1 million cu. yds. (764,000 cu m) of earth for its contract.
Additional work that is being performed as part of the Grundy Floodproofing Project and under separate contracts includes a $28.8 million contract awarded to Bush & Burchett by the Corps for the redevelopment site. In December 2004, Bush & Burchett completed construction of the 13-acre (5.2 ha) flood safe redevelopment site, which included blasting, excavation and removal of approximately 2.4 million cu. yds. (1.8 million cu m) of material. The contractor also relocated 3,800 ft. (1,200 m) of railroad track and built a 1,500-ft. long (460 m) river walk. The town began development of this site in 2005 with installation of utilities, and in 2006 construction of a parking garage and retail buildings started. The first businesses are slated to open in September 2007.
Another contract, worth $1.8 million, was awarded to Orders Construction Company in Saint Albans, W. Va., to build a new bridge to provide access to the site. This permanent bridge to the redevelopment site on the other side of the river was completed in January 2005 and is located on the western end of Grundy.
TAB Construction Company in Canton, Ohio, has been awarded a $5.6-million contract by the Corps for construction of the ring wall, which includes approximately 800 linear ft. (240 m) of concrete floodwall, a roller gate closure at Walnut Street, and a storm water pump station. TAB started work on Phase I of the ring wall in May 2006.
Phase II of TAB’s contract for the ring wall, also called the “levee/ring wall tie-in,” will begin in summer 2008, provided Phase I is finished. Phase II includes approximately 200 linear ft. (61 m) of concrete floodwall and a roller gate closure at Main Street. This levee/ring wall tie-in will connect the ring wall to the Route 460 embankment levee, which will create a flood protection system meant to protect the town in the event of a 100-year flood.
The entire Grundy Floodproofing Project is scheduled for completion during the summer 2009. CEG
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