BRISTOL, Tenn. (Nov. 9, 2016) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District joined the cities of Bristol, Virginia and Tennessee along with the Tennessee Valley Authority to celebrate the completion of the Beaver Creek Flood Reduction Project during a ceremony today at Jerry Good pasture Plaza in Bristol, Tenn.
The cities of Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia are twin cities located directly on the Tennessee-Virginia state line. Both cities have been affected for more than 15 years by flooding that occurs along Beaver Creek and its tributaries, impacting downtown businesses and residential neighborhoods.
The downtown ceremony marks the culmination of more than a decade of planning and cooperative efforts between the Corps, the Cities of Bristol, and the Tennessee Valley Authority to provide a solution to severe flooding.
Lt. Col Stephen F. Murphy, Nashville District commander and district engineer, attended the ceremony and commended city leaders, the community, project managers, and everyone that worked on the project in the last decade.
“This is a beautiful city and a great project for the Army Corps of Engineers. It is very important to the local community, and it is very important to us to help you,” said Murphy. “This is what the Corps of Engineers is here to do… improve the lives of citizens.”
Ramune Morales, project manager for the Beaver Creek Flood Damage Reduction Project, said the four-phase project began in September 2011 to provide channel and site improvements at the former Sears Building site. During the project the Corps removed an existing box culvert, modified the Beaver Creek Dam inlet, sloped the creek banks, created a plaza area, installed a parking lot, provided landscaping and lighting, widened the channel near 6th Street, and improved the channel and modified the bridge near 8th Street.
"It is a great feeling to see the project finally completed,” said Morales. “It was a team effort between the two cities, the Corps, TVA and contractors.
Mike Wilson, deputy for Programs and Project Management in the Nashville District, said the incentive for this project was a desire to protect the commercial assets of downtown Bristol from the risk of potential flood damage, which has historically been very costly. Reducing the risk of the adverse economic impacts associated with flooding is a critical component of the continued revitalization of Bristol’s downtown area. These improvements will provide greater flood protection to other areas along Beaver Creek that have previously been flood prone as well, he said.
Wilson added that in 2001, Bristol, Tenn., entered into an agreement with the Corps on behalf of both cities to conduct a feasibility study, which produced a detailed project report and environmental assessment outlining potential courses of action for completion.
Morales said the project was divided into four phases, the last of which included the widening of the channel and removal of the bridge at 8th Street, which impeded creek flow, along with replacing the pedestrian bridge on the Wes Davis Greenway. Other components included site modifications at the former Sears building and Beaver Creek Dam inlet, as well as channel widening near 6th Street.
Construction contracts for the project were awarded to Aspen Construction and Stephens Construction Inc. Aspen Construction from Hackensack, Minn., completed work at the Sears site, at 6th street, and 8th street, while Stephens Construction Inc., constructed the modified Beaver Creek Dam inlet.
The cost for the project is shared between the federal government and the Cities of Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia. The Nashville District designed and managed construction.
With downtown Bristol buzzing again, city officials stressed during the ceremony just how important this project is to the local economy and safety of its citizens.
Bill Sorah, city manager for Bristol, Tenn., said the project provides addresses the flood potential that has been a problem on a periodic basis for Bristol.
“It was a process but because of this project our downtown area is a better place for thriving food and beverage businesses, specialty shops, and they can now operate without the fear of previous flood occurrences.”
With the project site yards away from businesses and State Street, the major thruway that divides the city in half is lined with flourishing businesses again. Bristol, Tenn., Mayor Chad Keen said the people of Bristol celebrate what it means to the sustainability of the community.
“We knew that a solution to protect our shared local economy from the impact to future flooding was imperative and well worth the investment that has been made.” said Keen
Murphy said the city of Bristol should enjoy the incredible benefits from the Beaver Creek flood damage reduction project and the project is a preventative measure to reduce the risk of greater flood damage should flooding occur in the future.
“I think we’re all happy with the project outcome,” said Murphy. “It’s the people involved; it’s the leadership, the division, the teamwork and collaboration that made a difference over 15 years.”
The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.