Erosion in the road at the intersection of Wexford Avenue and Parker Boulevard led a public works crew to block off traffic Monday and work on replacing a cracked concrete drainage pipe – a task that Public Works Director Joey Conger expects will last until Thursday.
Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis said the project by itself isn’t a costly matter. It should cost the city $2,000 to dig up the road, replace the pipe and repave the road, he said. But Conger said the cracked pipe likely isn’t an isolated incident.
“This is the only one that’s made itself evident,” Conger said Tuesday, surveying his crew as they installed the new pipe at the intersection. “But with all this rain we’re having, we think there’s probably a lot more, and that’s kind of what we’re really worried about.”
And it’s symbolic of a larger problem, according to Willis. The mayor said none of Weaver’s roads are in great shape.
“Weaver has always had road problems,” Willis said. “For a long time we’ve just sort of gotten by doing little patches here and there, but that doesn’t solve the problem.”
Weaver City Councilman Mike Warren said the intersection with the 8-inch hole is in the Shannon Hills neighborhood, which has drainage pipes that probably date back to the 1960s. That’s long past the typical lifespan of concrete or metal drainage pipes, said Calhoun County Engineer Brian Rosenbalm.
“Typically concrete pipes can last a few decades,” said Rosenbalm, who noted that so far in 2013, the county hasn’t dealt with any issues involving draining pipes. “Metal ones can last maybe 20 years before they start to deteriorate.”
It’s not just Weaver that’s having issues with drainage pipes. Bob Dean, Anniston’s public works director, said the last six months has seen unprecedented flooding in his city. He also said a sinkhole on Weaver Road will cost nearly $1 million to replace a pipe that’s between 30 and 40 years old.
“A lot of our drainage ditches have been neglected for the last 20 years,” Dean said. “We’ve actually been pretty proactive the last two years on taking care of them, or this could be a lot worse.”
How old the drainage pipes are in any part of the county is impossible to speculate, Rosenbalm said.
“We’re in a constant state of maintenance,” he said. “One part of the road can have a 20-year-old pipe, and just up the road we’ll have replaced an old one just last year. You just never know.”
A constant state of maintenance is what Willis said Weaver needs to fix the constant bumps in the road and to start making long-lasting changes to the city’s street surfaces.
“Roads don’t get better with age,” Willis said. “You can’t just fill a hole with asphalt, because in the long run that’s going to cost you more money when a cracked pipe washes the whole road away.”
Louanne Gowens, who lives on Woodlock Lane, just a block from the cracked drainage pipe on Wexford Avenue, said the construction has altered her route into town. It’s only a small inconvenience to her day, the woman said, but it’s also gotten her to see up close some of the back roads in her town she doesn’t typically see every day.
“The roads in Weaver, they’re bad,” said Gowens, who’s lived in the city for 20 years. In that time, she said, she’s seen a lot of potholes get filled, but not much else.
“This road can probably get by with just some repaving,” she said looking from her driveway to Woodlock Lane. “But some of these roads, they need to do something about them.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.