By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — Crews have been hard at work trying to quickly stop erosion that city leaders believe could threaten the safety of people in one part of Trussville’s greenway.
The area of concern is on the Cahaba River, about a quarter of a mile north of Cherokee Drive, parallel to Pump House Drive. Director of Parks and Recreation, David Vinson, said the problem started after two large trees fell into the Cahaba. The route of the water changed because of the fallen trees and the land erosion quickly began to threaten part of the sidewalk on the greenway.
Mayor Buddy Choat said his top priority is making sure people on the sidewalk stay safe. Public Works Director Frank Jones said the city called in experts to remove the trees.
“Milam and Company removed the trees out of the waterway and got the river back in its original flow,” said Jones.
Riprap rocks were placed on the eroded part of the shoreline, in order to stop further erosion. Jones said the work should be completed by next Tuesday but could be finished as soon as today (Friday).
Jones said in the meantime, other parts of the Cahaba will be murky and muddy due to the work being performed.
“Anytime you pull something from the bottom of the river and get it out, it turns up dirt,” Jones said.
Beth Stewart, with the Cahaba River Society, offered her advice in the repair process. She contacted the city as soon as she heard about the erosion and had another member of the society meet with the city. Stewart also emailed Mayor Choat before work was done to repair the river.
“Our request and advice for the city was that they take a little time to plan the project so that it would both be protective of the river as well as the park,” said Stewart.
The Cahaba River Society connected the city with the Nature Conservancy to help come up with a plan and possibly help fund the project, but Mayor Choat said the repairs were already underway when the Conservancy contacted him.
Choat said the city used a national permit from the Army Corps of Engineers that allows restoration work to be done along the banks of rivers. He said the city took into consideration advice from experts and engineers. However, he said what the Cahaba River Society wanted to do would have been a longer, more expensive process and would have likely yielded the same result.
“I didn’t feel like it was necessary, first of all,” Choat said. “So, we contracted with Milam to do it, and the sooner the better and hopefully we can save our walkway and everything else along there.”
Choat said he believes the repairs have been successful but that the city will continue to keep an eye on any changes. The city may also have to repair some sidewalk that has already cracked on the greenway.
“We try to protect the Cahaba probably more than anybody,” said Choat. “I just felt like this was something we could handle locally instead of getting other folks involved in it.”
Another concern for the environment was the large machines used in the project. Machinery had to be brought in to remove trees and stumps and to add the riprap to the area. Stewart said machinery used in the removal process is why the river is murky in Trussville.
“We’re always concerned if someone gets machinery into the Cahaba River and starts to muck around with the river,” Stewart said. “It causes a lot of pollution, sediment that is flowing downstream and the river is very powerful. It takes a good bit of expertise to design a repair that’s going to last and isn’t going to create other problems. We haven’t had any input into the solutions that the city has pursued. We would’ve preferred for there to have been some more time and thought and more involvement with all of the interested organizations that were willing to help.”
Choat said he does not see any pollution concerns with the way the project was handled.
Stewart said the Cahaba River Society values relationships built between the society and the city and hopes the work done on the river doesn’t cause more damage to the river.
The total cost of the repairs is around $30,000.