Gorge Creek Culvert Repair
Stormwater and Drainage Infrastructure Improvements Project
Question: Why is this project happening in the first place? Whose idea was it?
Answer: The project was selected from a group of potential projects designed to make the Village of Middleburgh more resilient to future flooding. In 2013, New York State developed the NY Rising Communities program which awarded $3,000,000 to NYS communities affected by hurricanes Irene and Sandy in 2011 and 2012. A committee of 23 individuals representing a cross-section of community stakeholders and professionals recommended the Gorge Creek project as well as several more for the Village of Middleburgh. The Gorge Creek project scored the highest in terms of its ability to provide the highest degree of protection of community assets. The entire plan was completed in 2014 and can be viewed at the Village office.
Question: Why didn't the sediment pond on Gorge Road work?
Answer: The sediment pond did exactly what it was designed to do. It captured several tons of sediment and attenuated a million gallons of water during flash flooding in July of 2021. Had the pond not been installed, the Village would have had a reoccurance of 2013 flash floods which caused inches of mud to accumulate on all Main Street sidewalks and required crews to remove bed-load from the culverts under Main Street for a period of two weeks. The 2021 event resulted in sediment being removed from the culverts in approximately one day. Once the third 10'x5' culvert is installed, the system will have the capacity of draining a 100-year storm, which will result in far fewer cases of flooding on Main Street.
Question: Why is it necessary to close Clauverwie Road to install the third culvert?
Answer: The initial plan was to only close one lane of Clauverwie Road to allow construction crews to install the culvert. Because the project crosses under a state highway (SR145) it requires permits from New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). This assures that all state traffic safety regulations are adhered to. DOT felt that there was not a sufficient margin of safety with this detour due to lack of space for heavy equipment operation and traffic at the same time. Once that option was off the table the Village had proposed purchasing a large piece of property that would connect Clauverwie Road with the Middle School parking lot to serve as a traffic detour. They had solicited the Governor's Office for Storm Recovery (GOSR) for the necessary funds to purchase this property which was agreed to. However, whenever public funds are used for the purchase of easements, the property must be appraised so tax dollars are not misused for purposes like this. The property appraisal was less than the asking price for the property, so the Village would have been required to pay the difference. Despite the Village's willingness to to go forward with the purchase regardless, the sale fell through. Furthermore, a temporary access agreement to install the detour was refused by the property owner. This left no option but to close Clauverwie Road completely to allow for the installation of the culvert. The Village sent a request to the Schoharie County DPW requesting approval to close Clauverwie Road during construction in the summer of 2022 which was approved by the Schoharie County Highway Committee.
Question: What plans are being made for emergency access during this construction?
Answer: Once the decision was made to close Clauverwie Road, the Schoharie County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) contacted the Schoharie County Office of Emergency Services (SCOES) to inform them of the road closure so plans could be made for EMS, Police, and Fire access for the 6-8 week construction period. The Village contacted the local Fire Dept to discuss options for staging equipment south of the construction site.
Question: Who is responsible for cleaning out the sediment pond along Gorge Road and cleaning out the new culvert under Main Street?
Answer: The Village and NYSDOT have a shared services agreement for maintenance of both the sediment pond and associated components and the new existing culverts under Main Street as well as Middleburgh High School. That document can be viewed at the Middleburgh Village Office.
Question: Why weren't other issues on Gorge Creek or drainage issues throughout the Village included with this project?
Answer: There were other projects recommended and identified in the 2014 NY Rising Plan for Schoharie County, but with limited funds to do the work the projects with the most positive impact must take priority.
Question: Why did it take so many years to complete this project?
Answer: Much of this project's footprint lies of private property so there are many parts to seeing it completed. Temporary and permanent access easements must be secured just to design these projects so there are negotiations with property owners, surveys, and in some cases purchase agreements in areas that must be accessible in the future for maintenance and repairs. All of this takes a great deal of time. Then there is the fact that the designs need to be adjusted whenever there is an issue such as a detour adjustment, funding shortfall, or other unforeseen obstacles. Worth noting is that despite the $3,000,000 budget cap the Village of Middleburgh initially received, GOSR has provided and additional $734,723 on top of that amount to complete this project. Design estimates were several years old and labor and material costs have skyrocketed since they were initially proposed. All of these issues take time to work through, and all were unavoidable.