The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 9, 2013

Major pipe washout closes part of Cowford for at least week

By Karen Middleton

— A major pipe spanning a portion of Cowford Road washed out in last week’s rains, closing the road for at least a week, according to Limestone County District 3 Commissioner Bill Latimer.

The section of road between Nuclear Plant and Browns Ferry roads in southwest Limestone is spanned by an oblong, 40-foot-long drainage pipe measuring 74 inches high by 88 inches wide. The pipe will cost $7,000 to replace but labor will bring the total cost to between $15,000 to $20,000, Latimer said.

“I’ve got to order the pipe, and that will take a couple of days to come in,” he said. “We’ll back-fill it with red dirt and spread gravel on top and let traffic drive over it for a couple of weeks and then come back and put plant mix over top. It needs to settle so there isn’t a sag in the plant mix.”

Latimer said that when the district receives as much rain as it has over the past four to five days, he expects such washouts.

“Usually, we’ll have one or two washouts show up so maybe there is more that we haven’t come across,” he said.

Latimer said only local traffic will be allowed to use the road for the next week.

Among jobs Latimer said his crews would be working on in coming days are replacing tiles on Huntsville-Browns Ferry and Seven Mile Post roads.

Crews will also replace a tile this week on Old Highway 20 in Greenbrier.

Chelly Amin of the National Weather Service office in Huntsville said rainfall totals vary by several inches across Limestone County for the front that stalled over the area beginning early July 4 through Sunday night.

“From Athens westward the area got off lighter with from 3 to 4 inches,” said Amin. “However, from Athens eastward, rainfall ranged from 5 to 7 inches. In Capshaw and close to the Madison County line, they averaged from 6 to 7 inches, (and) some got 8 inches and approaching 9 inches. This is not counting the northern parts of the county near Elkmont and Ardmore.

“The creeks have already crested and started on down. Limestone Creek is at 3 feet now, but it crested at 12.67 feet at 5 a.m. on Friday and got up to almost 13 feet. Swan Creek reached its highest at 7.64 feet at about sunset on July 4 and is now at 3.5 feet.

“For July, this is very uncommon unless there is a tropical storm going through or a front that stalls, such as we had on the weekend. Huntsville International Airport has recorded the average rainfall for this time in July as 1 inch. However, we’re already 5.14 inches above normal at 6.14 inches.

“It would have been more than that if the heaviest rainfall hadn’t fallen west of the airport.”