George Hayes Road, which partially collapsed on April 17, is expected to remain closed through at least the end of May, but city officials are hoping to get it fixed sooner.
“We will take the quickest route even if we have to borrow the money to fix it, and then hopefully we will get those monies back. Just as fast as we can, we will attack the situation,” said Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison.
“I realize how needed that road is. People are having to go all the way around now and getting stopped by trains. I sympathize with their plight. We want to do it. We want to do it right, and we want to do it the most economical way we can for the city.”
The road collapse is located about 1.5 miles from Briar Creek Park, and the collapse is the width of the road, and at least 25 feet in length. Since the initial collapse Harrison said another four to five feet of roadway on the Briar Creek Park side of the road has collapsed.
Harrison said that the city is still exploring options on how to best fix the roadway.
One way would involve stabilizing the slide on both sides and placing a bridge over the collapsed section of road.
Another way is to place a boxed culvert under that section of the road.
Harrison said that the city is attempting to get Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to repair the collapsed portion of the road.
If the city gets such funding, it would have to provide matching funds in the amount of 25 percent, but Harrison said that at least a portion of that match could come in the form of labor to complete the work.
“We still don’t know if it is going to be accepted by FEMA as storm related activity. We are going after that funding. Chris Brewer, who is our maintenance supervisor and public works man, has done work for FEMA,” Harrison said.
“He actually took a leave of absence from here for three months once to work for FEMA. He knows what’s going on and the way to go about doing this. We have asked him to take over the project and go after the FEMA funding.”
If the city isn’t able to obtain FEMA funding, then Harrison said the city could pursue state municipal road aid emergency funds to help pay for the repair.
The city received similar funding to replace a bridge at Briar Creek Park that was damaged when a tile under the bridge washed out in late April 2017.
The total cost of that repair was about $35,000 out of which the city was able to get $25,000 in state emergency funds.
Harrison said the city is also contacting state legislators and the state transportation cabinet to see if there are any other funds to help pay for the road repairs.
So far the city doesn’t know how much the road repair will be.
Harrison initially estimated that the road repair might cost as much as $100,000, but he is now anticipating the cost will probably be less than that amount.
Harrison said that he would like to change the course of the water flow in Briar Creek near the road collapse, which could not only prevent a similar collapse in the future, but also stop erosion of a creek bank that is taking place behind a George Hayes Road resident’s home.
In order to do this, the city will have to get permits from the division of water and others.
“We are going to need some help and some permission to do what we want to do,” Harrison said. “Unfortunately at this time the road is still just going to have to remain closed until we hear back from everybody we are trying to get in touch with.”