City wins grant for water line project

Photo By Rick Harris
A grant approved by the state could defray up to 80 percent of the cost facing the city of Elizabethton to relocate a water transmission line precariously located on a decaying bridge over the Doe River.
By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com
A grant approved by the state could defray up to 80 percent of the cost facing the city of Elizabethton to relocate a water transmission line precariously located on a decaying bridge over the Doe River.
City director of Planning and Development, David Ornduff, said the city had been approved for an "imminent threat" grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to fund relocation of the 16-inch Doe River water transmission line. The line supplies water to roughly 30 percent of the city's water customers.
"It is a matter of the grant application and submitting it to the property authorities in Nashville," said Ornduff.
The water transmission line is not the problem. Encased in a concrete shell, the line extends 240 feet across a badly decayed bridge over the Doe River on the abandoned U.S. Highway 19-E.
Following a multiphase evaluation of the bridge, the J.R. Wauford & Co. engineering firm of Maryville estimated relocating the line via "trench-cut" in the Doe River would cost the city approximately $330,000. The state advised city officials the grant was approved in a letter dated Jan. 7, 2004. The imminent threat classification could result in the city having to fund 20 percent or less of the total project cost from its own coffers.
Entry into the Doe River requires an Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP) from the state Department of Environment and Conservation as well as additional regulatory approval from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
J.R. Wauford engineers initially evaluated the bridge June of 2002 and found a 46-foot portion of the bridge's western wall and a bridge deck had fallen into the river. Later visits revealed additional "very rapid deterioration" by the firm, which wrote the bridge "could possibly fall in the immediate future," in an evaluation completed in April.
A request submitted by city officials to the state Department of Transportation to attach the new transmission line to the George Bowers Bridge was denied late last year. City officials then opted to pursue a trench cut through the river to relocate the line.
Under the grant, the city would bid out the project and initially fund the construction of transmission after a construction firm is hired and applicable permitting approved. The state then reimburses the city's costs as they are submitted to the state.
The county flood in January of 1998 effectively destroyed a 14-inch water transmission line to the city's Hampton Spring source. That water line was located beneath the Doe River. The city constructed the existing water line to restore water service to city customers shortly after the flood.