Brushy Mtn Tunnel Flood Control

Note: click images for larger view.

Update 20141030: Terrain image from Google Maps Engine. Highlighted area shows the approximate area of the North Basin discussed below.



As most Silver Comet Trail cyclists know, it has been a problem keeping the mud and water out of the Brushy Mtn train tunnel. When we started our clean-up efforts the tunnel was flooded with mud and water. When I began my work at the tunnel, one of my first projects, I investigated the source of the runoff at the east end of the tunnel. Since the tunnel is cut into the rock of the mountain it is a long hike from the trail to the areas near the tunnel entrances, so I decided to start from the road above the tunnel.  You can read about that here.

I found that a large area of many acres drained into a basin, North of the East entrance to the tunnel. The water that was flooding the east end the tunnel was coming from a hole in the wall of a natural basin (perhaps a sink hole). Over the last few years I’ve been thinking how best to control the water and sediment that is carried down and filling the water retention pond. I tried silt fences, this did slow the water, but not effective at eliminating the erosion of the 150 ft long channel that feeds into the the tunnel “cut” from this “natural” dam.

This Friday I attempted to create a solution. Leonard, the guy that works for Jim Brannon came out to help. We dropped the bulk of our gear from Brush Mtn Rd at at point that we hoped would be near the basin. Then drove the trail, parked East of the tunnel and hiked to the the work location. After some searching (I had made a good guess for the drop point) we located the dropped gear at the west rim of the basin. Our first chore was to clean out debris and the existing silt fence. Our plan was good, I brought a post-hole-digger to help “open the channel” under bank where the water flowed. Leonard from the basin side, me from the channel side, we dug from both sides. The bank was about 15-16 ft wide, wider than I remembered. I was skeptical that we would be successful. I worked for 1/2 hour and was able to get the 10 ft section of 4″ drain line through up to my shoulder. That was amazing. Leonard could see the end! We attached the 50 ft section of drain line and attempted to “snake” it through. Our first attempt me pushing and Leonard coaxing from the opposite side, failed. The ten ft section came loose, but it was close. After some work Leonard could see the end of the drain line. He manged to grab it with post-hole-digger and pull it through. Eureka, we had manged to get the 4 inch drain line through this 15 ft earth chasm!
Now we began the process of attempting to seal the chasm around the drain line. I brought thick foam, which we packed in around the drain line. Then silt fence fabric, rock on top of that. Wish we had more rock, but rock was scarce in this area. Then dirt, another layer of silt fence fabric, sticks and branches to hold that, then lots of dirt.

Fortunately, the bank over the area where we were working was soft dirt. Leonard worked really hard piling in more dirt. Then a layer of plastic screen and more dirt.

We covered the dirt with a layer of leaves and branches to help hold the leaves in place. Hopefully, this will control the rain water and eliminate most of the sediment that fills the retention pond. The next phase is to add an additional 100 ft of drainline and this will complete the 150 ft run to carry the water to the trail cut and eliminate the heavy sedimentation from erosional processes. South edge of the basin.

Brushy Mtn Tunnel Ponds

Background: The east pond at the Brushy Mtn tunnel on the Silver Comet Trail is critical to keeping the tunnel dry and more importantly, mud out of the tunnel. If the east pond fills, everything drains to the tunnel. Late spring Jim I removed what sludge we could with his tractor. That effort has resulted in a dry tunnel, but it wouldn’t last long.

For several months (actually longer) I’ve been trying to find county resources or donated services for an excavator to clean out the retention pond at the east end of the Brushy Mtn tunnel. I had about given up. I mentioned on a facebook post that Jim and I do most of the work cleaning the trail. Hearing this, one of our riders, Joe Crane asked if he could help. Joe has a large backhoe and he volunteered to help at the tunnel.
Recent dry weather had left the ponds as dry as they were going to be. We were able to get everything together this Saturday. We put in a very long day, Joe running the backhoe and digging, then dumping into Jim’s tractor bucket and hauled off. Me I got to do all the labor of using a hoe to pull the load into the bucket and distributing evenly; removing the excess so it didn’t slop-down onto the trail when Jim hauled it off. While Jim was transporting I was shoveling and cleaning the mess that didn’t make the bucket. It was a tough day for me, I was beat.
Good news is, we got it done. We cleaned out both ponds and replaced the large barrier rocks at the east pond. So what was a favorite of many riders, to stop at the pond on the west end of the tunnel has now been restored. By the end of the day Saturday the steady flow of ground water had nearly filled the west pond.

A huge Thank You to Joe Crane and Jim Brannon. Joe running his backhoe and Jim doing all the hauling with his tractor. We were able to clear both ponds at the Brushy Mtn tunnel. They worked hard and made a difference.

Note: click images for larger view.

Loading the bucket on Jim's tractor.

Joe running the backhoe, Jim in the tractor.

East pond after clean-up, pooling water.

West pond after clean-out, nearly full.

Trail Road Crossing Safety

This was a response to Scott on the forums:

I think the primary key to safe intersections is visibility.
I’ve done a significant amount of work to try and improve the safety of the intersections we use frequently. With fairly dramatic results.

Most of us try to slow to a safe speed and look for cars; we are using your “rolling” method.
Also, I don’t like to make cars stop, if I don’t have too. So, I will usually wait for traffic to clear, rather than pushing a button.
Having said that, the intersection that seems to work the best (IMO) is the ONLY trail intersection with a vehicle STOP. That is in Hiram intersection on Depot Rd (the caboose).
The relatively new crossing lights at Rosedale Rd is a good re-design of an inherited design problem. These flashing lights are VERY effective.

Sadly, many riders seem to like the roll of the dice and shoot through intersections.
Forrest and I track the incidents we’ve seen: Vehicles:6, Triathletes:0
Again, sadly for some reason, it appears that bikes equipped with aerobars are the problem ( it couldn’t be the rider, right? ).
The exception, now is the bike ridden by Mr Perkins, it was a standard drop bar road bike ( one reason I wanted to see a picture of the bike ).
The stat is now, sadly: Vehicles:7, cyclists:0. Morbid as some may find this, it is the reality of our situation as cyclists. We never win, we strive to break-even in the world of bike vs. vehicles.

My thoughts:
1) a reduced signed/posted vehicle speed limit at all trail crossings ( like a school zone ).
2) a vehicle STOP or light (like Rosedale) at ALL trail crossing where visibility or vehicle speed can’t be effectively managed.
3) Bike speed zones at trail heads and crossings.
4) Special hazardous zone markings painted ON the trail where appropriate.
5) a safety assessment for each crossing and visibility improvement projects where required.

Using the old reliable 80/20 rule, these actions will likely fix 80% of the incidents related to road crossings, also hopefully reducing the severity of accidents that do occur. Of course people are creative and some will view this as an enhanced opportunity to blow-thru intersections. Some folks just aren’t wired right, that can’t be helped, ticketing and peer pressure can be an effective cure within the posted and marked areas.

Trail-Road Intersections Trimming July 2014, part 1

Visibility at trail-road intersections is an important issue on the Silver Comet Trail. Cars need to see cyclists and of course, the cyclists need to see cars at trail-road intersections. Paulding County has several intersections that require regular trimming. I’ve been doing this for the last three years. The effects of trimming shrubbery and trees can have a dramatic effect on visibility and safety at road crossings.

Note: click images for larger view.

Eisley-Stamper Road: view North

Only 30-40 ft from the intersection and the north view of the road is completely obscured by the shrubbery.


Eisley-Stamper view north, before.

After trimming:
Cyclists have a clear view of the road to the North. This allows them to focus their attention on the more hazardous south view which has an adjacent cross-street (Rosedale Rd) with turning traffic. No, my truck wasn’t moved between photos; before, it was completely hidden from view.

Eisley-Stamper view north, after trimming.

Eisley-Stamper view north, after trimming.

Wyandotte Road: view South

Was a major problem for visibility of vehicles. Ground cover had grown to a height which completely hid the view of approaching vehicles.
Before: The road is completely obscured from view.

Wyandotte Rd: view South.

Wyandotte Rd: view South, before.

After trimming: A dramatic improvement, the road is clearly visible.

Wyandotte Rd: view South, after.

Wyandotte Rd: view South, after.

After trimming: view approaching intersection.
Now, after trimming, the south road is completely visible to approaching cyclists.

Wyandotte Rd: view South, after, approaching intersection.

Wyandotte Rd: view South, after, approaching intersection.

Both access roads into the Paulding Waste Water Treatment Plant were also trimmed.

new Silver Comet Trail RxR Crossings

I’m pleased to report that the four Silver Comet Trail railroad crossing in Polk County have been rebuilt.
I did a drive-by on 3 of the the 4 crossing and they were completed. Likely that the fourth crossing is done, or soon to be done also.
The less than good news is that wood was used again, rather than a improved, more durable material. However, these will be good for a few years until a better, safer plan can be implemented.
Reminder: the Old Cedartown crossing is still very severe angle and dangerous.

Old Cedartown Rd Crossing

Bethlehem Rd Crossing

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