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City officials consider way to reduce flooding

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Franklin is considering projects to clean out dirt from underneath bridges and widen banks nearby after a request for help from business owners and residents who were flooded in December.

City officials are considering spending up to $215,000 on work that could help reduce future flooding in the downtown, which could begin as soon as next year.

Water flowed backwards into a downtown drain pipe and dirt that has built up around bridges caused water to rise in Youngs Creek near downtown, according to a study. In December, low areas near South Jackson Street had about 6 inches of standing water.

Earlier this year, Scott Graham of Graham Wrecker Service, whose business was flooded by about 6 inches of water, asked the city to fix those problems.

“They’re now addressing it, mainly maintenance that has needed to be done that’s crept up over a long, long time. We’re pleased with the outcome, and it’s got to go through its process, and we’re moving in the right direction,” Graham said.

A significant amount of dirt, sand and other debris has built up along the creek’s banks and under bridges, which is causing water to bottleneck downtown, Andrew Cochrane of Whitaker Engineering said.

The water level is higher on the west side of the South Main Street bridge, which shows that the creek isn’t passing under the bridge at a normal rate. Water also slows down as the creek widens and bends through Franklin, which causes more dirt to settle and has led to sandbars that are pushing water higher up the banks, he said.

The city would benefit most from a $2.1 million project that would clean dirt out of the creek bed and reshape banks from South Main Street to South Street, then reinforce those banks with concrete so that any future high water won’t erode the dirt and undo the work, Cochrane said.

Since that project is so expensive and the city hasn’t completed a study looking at all drainage in Franklin, officials are considering a smaller project that could still help reduce flooding. That $215,000 project would reshape and reinforce banks, but only for 150 feet on both sides of bridges at South Main Street, Home Avenue and South Street, and would clean out sediment from under the bridges, which will help water move faster through downtown.

Franklin will also need to fix one drain pipe because the opening is lower than the banks of the creek, Cochrane said. When water rises, it runs back into the pipe then starts pouring out of inlets in the downtown, Cochrane said. The city will install a stop valve to fix that problem, superintendent Rick Littleton said.

Flooding will always be a potential problem, but the projects could prevent high water from smaller storms, Cochrane said.

“You can’t eliminate this from happening ever again, but you can mitigate it,” Cochrane said.

The city will likely spend less than the $215,000, which would come from money that has built up from $5 monthly stormwater fees, Mayor Joe McGuinness said. The county is planning to replace the South Main Street bridge in 2016, so the work to reshape and reinforce the banks around that bridge could be done at that time, city engineer Travis Underhill said.

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