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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

State crews work to dry out Salem drainage ditch

Friday, October 5, 2012

This summer's drought created a lot of bad memories, but the long dry spell turned out to be a good thing for the Arkansas Highway Department. It has allowed the department to get to the bottom of a long time drainage problem along Highway 62-412 in Salem.

For years, the drainage ditch, which runs from Williams Garage to Hills' Auto Sales, has been constantly wet and muddy, making it difficult to mow.

"About every time we try to mow, our tractor gets bogged down, and we have tried many times to try to stop the standing water," Bruce Street said. Street, the Maintenance Engineer for the district Highway and Transportation office in Batesville, explained, "This summer it was dry enough for us to get in there and investigate where the water is coming from."

That investigation led to the discovery of an unauthorized gravity flow sewer line which was apparently run to the ditch long ago. The owner of the property where the line is located is having to close it off, stopping the water flow.

A small spring, which runs to the ditch, was also found to add to the water problem for a drainage ditch that should be dry most of the time, until it rains and storm runoff flows through it.

As the sewer line is being shut down, maintenance crews

have used heavy equipment to dig up and remove dirt from the ditch to make a uniform surface that can be graded it so that it drains properly.

The next step is to put a concrete bottom in part of the ditch, and to cover the rest of the ditch with rock. A thin layer of concrete will then go over the rock to "tie it down."

"Once we get everything in place, the rock along the ditch will stay in place, it should drain properly and should stop being a big, wet mess," Street said.

Because the ditch had dried out during the drought, crews have been able to make good progress, getting equipment in and out of the ditch without having to constantly pull it out of the mud.

"When there's a problem like this in a town or a city, we try to resolve it," Street said. "Standing water causes a lot of problems with mosquitos, and hurts access by responders when there's an accident and a vehicle winds up in the ditch."

Once the work is done, the state should be able to keep its right of way along Highway 62 in Salm moved and looking nicer.

All of the work is being done by state maintenance crews, which is holding down the cost of the improvement project.

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