FLOWERY BRANCH - Flowery Branch City Council members said Thursday night they wanted more information before they change course on controlling the potentially destructive flood water flow from Flowery Branch Creek.
City Manager Bill Andrew told Council that bridges spanning the creek would hold up better in a flood than culverts and would be cheaper to build, but there's a $43,000 price tag on getting the construction bid package ready from Pond Consultants in Atlanta.
Councilman Damon Gibbs said he wants to meet with the consultant first before approving that expense.
"The reason I think it's a good idea to meet with Pond is the design concept has changed," Gibbs said. "For us to approve an expense without knowing more about it does not make sense to me."
Gibbs said he wanted meetings with Pond Consultants before the next council meeting when members could decide if they want to give the go-ahead on the bid package.
Andrew told council members that Pond recommended bridges at most if not all of the crossings of Flowery Branch Creek, and city staff agrees.
"Due to the volumes of water that we're now seeing on our study, a bridge would be more cost effective," Andrew said. "According to numbers we've seen the bridges would be cheaper to construct but what Council I think is concerned about right now is the idea that we may be spending $43,000 just to get to the point where we can entertain the construction cost."
Andrew said Pond's estimated cost was for a bid package on a Spring Street bridge, but there are four others that would cross the creek at Cantrell Street, East Main, Phil Niekro, and Mulberry Street.
"We're entertaining bridges at all those sites due to the lower cost and because a bridge would have a much larger capacity than any culvert that we could construct," Andrew added.
That flood water capacity would be really larger because of Northfolk Southern's water flow project under its railroad tracks, according to the City Manager. In April the normal train speed at 50 mph was reduced to 10 mph when two of three culverts under the railroad tracks just below town started collapsing and caused the tracks to sag.
"As we understand it now, what Northfolk Southern is proposing to build will be larger in capacity than what was there during the failure last spring," Andrew said. "However, what they are building, our engineers feel, will impede the flow of water. The stream would back up and there won't be a free flow of the stream at flood stage directly into Lake Lanier. The water will back up somewhat at the railroad and it will be deeper on our end."
Andrew said the bridge design accounts for that back-up but it could cost the city more for its bridges and that's also a concern for City Council.