Sections of riverbank along both the Oostanaula and Etowah Rivers gave way over the weekend creating.
A section of the trail along the Oostanaula River behind Chieftains Museum washed out over the weekend. The Rome Water Department sent a crew to the scene to put up caution tape to block the section of the trail until it is determined how to repair the damage.
The washed out section is close to the lowest section of the trail and also the section that is closest to the actual riverbank. In addition, a sidewalk which is close to the riverbank just north of the Turner McCall Boulevard Bridge is also washed out.
Rome Public Works Director Chris Jenkins said that detour signs would be placed on the trail, routing walkers and bikers to the sidewalk that runs in front of Chieftains out to the trail connector near Fuddruckers.
New Rome Street Department Director Chad Hampton said that erosion of the riverbank is something that is natural. Relocating that short section of the trial away from the riverbank on the museum’s property is something the city may need to consider.
"We'd still come in here and try to shore this up but a plan to fix it permanently would be to shift the trail," Hampton said.
Jenkins said the city may need to speak with representatives of the Junior Service League which owns Chieftains.
"That to me would be the best fix," Jenkins said.
Once the river level recedes, Jenkins said the city will likely put some rock into the area that washed out to try to stabilize the bank.
Sections of the trail in Ridge Ferry Park, the shoals section between the ECO Center and Chieftains have had at least two washouts in the past.
The National Weather Service recorded 1.97 inches of rain in Rome Saturday resulting in the level of the Oostanaula River level coming up sharply over the weekend.
The gauge on the Turner McCall bridge, just downriver from the washout indicates the water level rose from 7.54’ Friday night at 8 p.m. to 12.18’ Saturday night at 8 p.m. the rate of flow jumped dramatically as well, from 6.13 thousand cubic feet per second Friday night to 13.1 thousand cubic feet per second Saturday night. By Sunday night the river level was at 16.35’ and the flow had increased to 21.9 thousand cubic feet per second.
Over on the Etowah River, a large section of the embankment just east of the Etowah Water Intake section collapsed into the river, toppling a large tree. Urban Forestry Department personnel had to use boom bucket trucks to cut away some of the tree so when the river level recedes, it doesn't topple into any of the water pumping equipment.
A much larger section of the riverbank might have collapsed into the Etowah had it not been for a lot of large old hardwood trees that have established significant root systems in the bank, Rome arborist Terry Paige said.
Once the water level recedes Water & Sewer Department Director Mike Hackett said they will take a hard look at the area that washed out to see how to best make repairs. Although the city has little contingency money left in the budget at the end of the year to deal with expensive repairs, said City Manager Sammy Rich.
All of this comes just weeks after the Oostanaula River rose to a crest of 24.71’ on Nov. 15 and the flow rate got up close to 22 thousand cubic feet per second.
The ups and downs of the river are what has caused the bank at the confluence of the Oostanaula and Etowah downtown to erode seriously enough to the point that a stabilization project was put on the 2013 SPLOST project list.
That is still one of the few projects on the 2013 list that has not been completed.