Six months in and the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project is well underway as specialized contractors begin the highly visible streambed relocation along the Swannanoa River at Gashes Creek Road.
Despite the scale of this project to manage high waters during floods and install infrastructure improvements and roadway access, the facilities at Recreation Park such as the picnic area, pool and the WNC Nature Center remain open to the public.
“This is a big project, but we understand that as we move into the summer, people are going to want to use this park,” said Stormwater Services Manager McCray Coates. “There are designated construction areas in place which will allow the park to remain usable.” Access to the river at the park will be limited as work begins on the streambed relocation this week, Coates says. “We do want people to stay out of the construction area,” he said.
Keeping the project rolling involves managing several specific tasks at the same time:
One of the main fixtures of the project is the relocation of the streambed next to Recreation Park. The section currently has a sharp turn that, during high water, erodes and potentially undermines the embankment beneath Azalea Road. A contractor has already cleared vegetation along to site and begun moving fill from one bank to the other and over the next few weeks, work will increase at that site.
Straightening the bend in the river will ease erosion on the bank, while boulders placed in the streambed will slow water as it moves downstream.
Park amenities like picnic pavilions and the Recreation Park Pool are still open for the park’s most popular season.
Crews have completed pilings for a bridge that will tie into the new roadway connecting the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex with Gashes Creek Road, a move that will introduce a smoother traffic pattern and incorporate infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. Next, crews will begin building the bridge abutments for the 150-foot bridge span across the Swannanoa River.
The construction team is removing fill from a plain that runs along the river, a move that will allow water a place to go in cases of high flood waters.
On the other side of the Swannanoa River, trucks are compacting dirt along the future site of the road that will connect to the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex.
Work on phase one of the Lake Craig/Azalea Road project is anticipated to be complete in December. Click here more information.