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Misdiagnosis affects path, cost of park renovations

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Misdiagnosis affects path, cost of park renovations

CAUTION: A construction crew digs up the meadow of Piedmont Park in March to fix a sinkhole that appeared in December.

CAUTION: A construction crew digs up the meadow of Piedmont Park in March to fix a sinkhole that appeared in December.

CAUTION: A construction crew digs up the meadow of Piedmont Park in March to fix a sinkhole that appeared in December.

CAUTION: A construction crew digs up the meadow of Piedmont Park in March to fix a sinkhole that appeared in December.

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CAUTION: A construction crew digs up the meadow of Piedmont Park in March to fix a sinkhole that appeared in December.

CAUTION: A construction crew digs up the meadow of Piedmont Park in March to fix a sinkhole that appeared in December.

In December 2015, a five by five foot sinkhole was dis- covered in the meadow of Piedmont Park. Since then, 10th St. commuters have seen the mountains of dirt, chain link fences and massive pipes covering the area. For weeks equipment piled up in the park. An original misdiagnosis of the sinkhole’s cause lengthened the work and dramatized the appearance of the project, but finally, the true problem has come to light.

When the sinkhole was first discovered it was believed by the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management to be the result of a 90-inch sewer pipe collapsing. The Atlanta Department of Watershed Management gathered and placed the mess of pipes and equipment needed to bypass the supposedly broken sewer line so it could be fixed.

However, when the workers dug down to locate the collapse, they were met with a surprise.

“Turned out that it wasn’t a 90- inch pipe that was the problem,” President and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy, Mark Banta, said. “When they finally dug down and got it dried out, but before they hooked up all of that black pipe, they learned it was actually a terra cotta pipe that had broken. It was a much, much smaller pipe that was part of an old storm sewer.”

Engineers were only able to deter- mine the true problem after excavating the hole to examine the water- flow. The excavation also enabled them to send cameras into the pipe to track the leak to confirm the actual cause of the sinkhole.

Banta said the seemingly minor problem did not translate to minor work. Although the collapsed terra cotta pipe no longer served any purpose, engineers thought it best to preempt further sinkholes from forming for the same reason. In or- der to do so, the remaining length of the terra cotta pipe had to be entirely collapsed. The majority of the work has involved dealing with the aftermath of the terra cotta pipe collapse. All of the extra equipment that was brought in but never used to bypass the bigger pipe resulted in more work needing to be done to return the meadow to its recognizable, grassy state.

“Unfortunately, while a lot of the work that was being done, it was very wet out there so the pieces of equipment that were moving the pipes and the pumps around did a lot of damage to the grass,” Banta said. According to Banta the city has filled the holes left by collapsing the pipe and put down a rough grade lay- er. The city will provide the funding

According to Banta the city has filled the holes left by collapsing the pipe and put down a rough grade layer. The city will provide the funding for the regrassing of the area but are allowing the Piedmont Park Conservancy to act as the green experts and determine how much and what kind of grass to use.

“There’s been conference calls between the project leaders at the city and the PPC at least once a week to discuss progress and plans,” Banta said. “They’ve been good partners in this.”

The meadow has always been one of the most popular places in the city on weekends and nice spring up stages, carnival rides and ad- days, regularly attracting thousands in a single weekend. Because of the project, the flocks of eager Atlantans have had to seek out somewhere else to cure their cabin fever. “We’re very glad that the work is nearly complete,” a representative of Park Tavern, the bar and restaurant at the corner of the meadow, said.

The closure of the meadow has also forced events to look elsewhere for space. The annual Dogwood Festival, which traditionally sets ministrative trailers in the meadow moved its activities closer toward the dog park and used remaining space more efficiently to combat the loss of the meadow.

“We’ve been working with people from the Dogwood Festival for weeks to come up with plan B and plan C,” Banta said.

Banta noted public confusion as another major problem of the project.

“Everybody saw these giant pipes and pumps laying out,” Banta said. “It looked like they were redoing the water system, but they are not.”

The misdiagnosis, while quickly unearthed, lengthened the work by months and cost the city more money.

“That’s the challenge with under- ground utilities,” Banta said. “It’s easy to armchair quarterback it now, but the reality is when you’re work- ing underground, you don’t really know what’s going on until you get down there.”

The Atlanta Parks Department and the Department of Watershed Management did not reply to multiple requests for interviews from the Southerner.

The meadow has been reseeded and is now in the recovery phase, but is still fenced off to allow growth. If all goes as planned, the meadow will be reopened for public usage in early summer Banta said.

 

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Misdiagnosis affects path, cost of park renovations