BRACKEN COUNTY, KY – For motorists negotiating a narrow section of Old Highway 19 along Little Turtle Creek in Bracken County, Kentucky, the trip will be a lot safer now that the road bank along the creek has been reinforced.
The safer road is the result of a Federal/Commonwealth Public Assistance program that provides extra funding to protect against future damage to public infrastructure, like the section of roadway that runs just above Little Turtle Creek.
Heavy rainfall and flooding in May 2010 caused road washouts and other damage throughout Bracken County, including that section of Old Highway 19. The flooded creek had eroded a portion of the road so that it was in danger of collapsing, creating a safety hazard for anyone traveling that stretch of road.
A major disaster had been declared for the Commonwealth in May 2010, providing Public Assistance funding to repair damaged infrastructure. FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding was used in addition to the Public Assistance funds in the repairs. HMGP funds may be available for construction activities — such as Old Highway 19 — that will result in the protection of public or private property from future natural disasters.
Stacey Florer, Bracken County Road Department supervisor, said this site has been an ongoing problem. The area had sustained flood damage several times over the years and an older, smaller wall had crumbled into the stream at one time.
To solve the problem of repeated threats to the roadway by flooding, Bracken County chose to use Hazard Mitigation funds to construct a 40-foot long, 1-foot wide, 8-foot high, reinforced concrete wall along the stream. The total cost was $8,757.00.
Simply repairing the road would have cost $1,520 and those temporary repairs likely would not have withstood flooding from future storms.
The reinforcement of Old Highway 19 along Little Turtle Creek is one example of utilizing Hazard Mitigation funds to apply mitigation techniques to build better and stronger. As the reinforced road bank withstands future flooding, the return on the investment will continue to grow.
That first return came in the early spring of 2011 when Little Turtle Creek again swelled with floodwaters without posing a threat to the road above.