Council hears options on fixing Wonderland
What they don’t agree on is what to do about some of the problems that rain has caused.
At Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Blowing Rock Town Council, commissioners listened to a number of proposed solutions to the landslides that have led to the closing of a section of Wonderland Trail, a two-lane paved road in Blowing Rock.
Town engineer Doug Chapman showed the council and the public gathered at Town Hall a PowerPoint presentation detailing the pros and cons of eight different solutions to the problems.
“The storms that took place the first week of July caused a failure of the slope below the road. The council has asked for a set of options and ECS did an evaluation and made a list of options,” Chapman said.
Wonderland Trail previously washed out in 1994 and was repaired with a stone-and-wire basket under the road, supported by large wooden beams.
During the storm and landslide in July, a large portion of the wood and rock washed out from under the road. A crack can be seen along the length of the road, which has now been blocked off from vehicular traffic.
The first two options presented by Chapman involved permanently closing that section of the road. The council’s general consensus was that closing the road was not a viable option.
The third option involves putting in a drilled shaft secant wall.
The cost is estimated to be $450,000. The advantages would be that the road would be permanently stabilized. The disadvantages would be the high cost and long construction duration.
The fourth option is to install conventional soil nails and Shotcrete. The cost is estimated to be $100,000 to $175,000. The advantages would be that it is the lowest cost option for a hard repair to the road and the road would stay where it is.
The fifth option is to utilize launched soil nails. The estimated cost would be $350,000. The advantage of the method would be a quickly established roadway. The disadvantage would be the high cost.
The sixth option would be to move the road away from the precipice.
The estimated cost of the method was $155,000, not taking into account the possibility of land purchases from private property owners. The advantage of the method would be its permanence. The disadvantages include the possibility of blasting of the rock wall.
The seventh option would be to build a viaduct-style bridge. The cost of the option was estimated to be $500,000. The advantage of the method is that the road could remain in place and the lower slope could be landscaped.
The disadvantage is the high cost.
The eighth option would be to create an anchored concrete mat at an estimated cost of $150,000. The advantage would be the moderate cost, while the disadvantage would be the continued slope instability.
The town council did not vote on any one option, but expressed interest in learning more details about the fourth and sixth options.
The town council also heard a presentation from architect David Patrick Moses on the proposed American Legion renovation project.
The town has received a matching grant to improve the building, which is used by the American Legion, Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation, Boy Scout Troop 101 and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, among other organizations.
Proposed improvements to the building include moving the bathrooms from the basement to the main floor and installing an outdoor deck on the side of the building facing Broyhill Lake.
During the meeting, commissioners expressed concern about how much room the bathrooms would take up on the main floor of the building.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Dick Goosman, owner of the Meadowbrook Inn, and Kent Tarbutton, owner of Chetola Resort, expressed concern that taxpayer-funded improvements to the American Legion Hall could lead to it competing with their businesses for meetings, weddings and other events.
“It is not a competition now,” Goosman said. “But once it is refurbished, it looks like it could be used for weddings. It is not a good idea for the town to be in competition with the private businesses that pay taxes.”
Added Tarbutton, “When you look at the proposed uses for this building, it concerns me. You have space problems for some of the proposed uses. Correct planning is so important on a project like this.”
The commissioners voted unanimously to table the matter for future discussion.
The commissioners also voted unanimously to consideration of bids to complete Phase IV of the downtown Streetscape project.
During the meeting, commissioners heard a presentation by Bill Eaker and Chris Dobbins of the Land of Sky Clean Vehicle Commission about Asheville’s increased use of nonpetroleum fueled vehicles.
The next regularly scheduled public meeting of the town council will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Blowing Rock Town Hall.