By Wyatt Goolsby
MIDLAND - Contractors will soon begin on a project to repair parts of the Jal Draw in Midland. The price tag? Close to 2.6 million dollars. It's a lot of money, but officials said on Wednesday it's dangerous for nearby homeowners if they don't fix it.
The section of the Jal Draw officials say is in need of repair is a half a mile stretch just north of Wadley between Garfield and Ward Streets. Contractors with Price Construction will have a lot of work to do starting next month. The biggest problem has been erosion over time. For example, squirrels burrowing through the nearby alley, and then, when it does rain, the holes just keeping getting bigger and bigger. Over the years, the city has put reinforcement, but officials say it's time for a long term solution.
"The slopes of this channel are too steep and they have begun to erode over the years. Some of the erosion has gotten so bad that it has crept up into the alleys," Midland City Engineer Rene Franks, explained. "In a worse case scenario, it could damage an alley to the point of under minding a house foundation."
Franks said the problems have been adding up: a foundation that is cracking, rodents burrowing through the sides, and slopes that have eroded so much the guardrails don't have much to cling to anymore.
"We need to halt the erosion process and repair this channel," Franks said.
Franks says contractors will be repairing the area with 3,000 concrete blocks, each weighing about 6,000 pounds. Rather than just patching up squirrels burrows like in years past, millions of dollars is going into stacking the blocks to make steps and stop the erosion to nearby alleys.
"It looks like, right over there. There are places that are going to fall in pretty soon," Sherri Lowery, who lives next to the Jal Draw, said.
Lowery has lived on Fairfax Court next to the Draw for 14 years. She said while erosion isn't an immediate concern, she said plans to make it look nicer and safer is a plus.
"Probably is until real bad damage and somebody gets hurt or something," Lowery added.
Meanwhile city officials will beef up a nearby guardrail on the south side and make sure the area is safe to drive. The plans have been in the works for a while, and officials said once it's all done it will be a good thing in the long run.
"We feel like we've chosen an excellent product that can do the job with a minimum of interruption of service to the public and solve the problem, so we're very excited," Franks said.
Contractors will likely get started within a month, and fixing this half a mile stretch will probably take 4 to 6 months. The good news is the work will all be going on in the draw, so they won't have to block traffic in the alley.