Residents of a Barrington subdivision street can finally drive home, four months after floods washed out the road.
But it is still unclear who will foot the bill.
“We’ve had preliminary discussions with our attorney,” Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said. “It’s a can of worms.”
Torrential rains overwhelmed a drainage pipe beneath Lakestone Court on June 3, causing it to collapse. The collapse left 14 homes isolated.
Columbia County Devel-opment Services Division Director Matt Schlachter said county crews finished repairing the road on Oct. 2, allowing residents to drive it for the first time in four months.
“This is a long-term solution to this issue,” Schlachter said. “It’s not just replacing a piece of pipe.”
The repairs included upgrading from the rusted corrugated metal pipe to a 9-foot square concrete box culvert with 10-inch thick walls. The original pipe rusted and was leaking and sucking in soil. The heavy rains overwhelmed the weakened culvert, causing it to collapse.
Crews finished up by paving the road, adding curbs and gutters and permanently replacing damaged water lines. The subdivision homeowners association is planning the landscaping, Schlachter said.
Within a week of the collapse, Schlachter said, a temporary gravel road was cut from Watervale into the back of Barrington, giving isolated residents access. But the residents agreed only to walk and drive golf carts on that road, Schlachter said.
“They are super excited. They are appreciative that the county for getting out there and working on this problem as fast as we did,” Schlachter said, adding that he kept residents informed with weekly e-mail updates. “We wanted to make sure they knew what was going on.”
We realized we had to repair (the collapsed road) for the safety of people who live in that subdivision,” Cross said.
Schlachter said he hasn’t received the final bill for the project, but estimates it will cost from $450,000 to $500,000.
Cross said the county may not be financially responsible for the repairs because land records place responsibility for maintaining the dam on the shoulders of the developer and the homeowners, not the county. County engineers have said that is was the dam’s construction that failed, destroying the road.
Cross said it is the county’s responsibility to ensure the public safety and restore the road and utilities as soon as possible. But the about 80 Barrington homeowners could be responsible for the repair costs. The decision will likely need to be made in the court system.
“It’ll have to be a decision by the commission whether to pursue it or not,” Cross said.