Work on Gainesville sidewalk project uncovers surprise old drainage system

Employees of Joe’s Bridge of Poplar Bluff, the company that is contracted to install new sidewalks and storm water drainage along Main and Third Streets in Gainesville, discovered a cavernous old drainage system that runs underneath Douglas Hawkins Shelter Insurance agency’s corner building. The discovery was a surprise to the workers and city officials, who did not know the drainage system was installed there. Water specialist Jessi Price said the city has spoken with an engineering firm that recommended the cavern be filled in as to not interfere with the new storm water drainage, the primary reason for the project, which will be installed under the asphalt alongside the sidewalk. The recent rains proved that the drainage is operational, and water flows through it.

After discovering the end of the drain on Main Street (see page 1), employees with Joe’s Bridge worked to “pothole” the asphalt along Third Street to find the drain’s beginning. They found it here, in front of Shelter Insurance on Third Street. The old drain will be filled in with a liquid concrete-type substance, which should prevent the old drain from being an issue with the new drainage system that is being installed to properly route storm water and prevent any further water damage inside the buildings in those areas.

The new drainage system includes more inlets on Third Street to allow storm water to drain through larger pipes that are being laid under the asphalt along Third and Main Streets. The pipe above is on Main Street. After the project is complete, contractors will repair the asphalt.

The Gainesville city project to replace the Third and Main Street sidewalks and install proper storm water drainage in those areas began late last month. Recently, the work uncovered an unexpected look at the past.

In the process of removing the Main Street asphalt to run new large drainage pipes alongside the sidewalk in that location, contractors unearthed what appears to be the former drainage system, which sits underneath the corner portion of the building that now houses Shelter Insurance - Douglas Hawkins Agency. 

The discovery was a surprise to both the contractors, Joe’s Bridge of Poplar Bluff, and to city officials, who did not know the existing drainage system was there. 

After discovering the open end of the drainage cavern along Main Street, city officials consulted with an engineering firm about what to do next. 

An engineer told city officials that they recommended “potholing” the asphalt along Third Street to find the other end of the drain. The contractors did that and discovered the drain’s entrance along Third Street, also in front of the Shelter Insurance building on that side. 

The city is unable to run its cameras through the 3-foot by 4-foot concrete drain because the terrain inside the cavern is rough with the bottom of the drain just made of dirt.

The consulting engineers came to Gainesville last week to give a recommendation on how to proceed. They recommended that the old drain be filled in with a type of expanding liquid concrete, which should reach all the small crevices to completely block off the old drain. 

The city council has been discussing the issue with inadequate storm water drainage in that area for more than a year. The area of concern includes the roadway and sidewalk that stretches down Third Street from Smokin’ Joes BBQ around the corner at Shelter Insurance - Douglas Hawkins agency and onto Main Street in front of Mill Country Title. Although the sidewalk is in disrepair, the project is mostly needed to help properly channel storm water from the city streets. 

The city council accepted a bid from Joe’s Bridge to complete the project at $323,305 at its Feb. 14 meeting. Officials say filling in the new drain will be an added cost, but officials do not know how much yet. 

When discussing the issue, City Water Specialist Jessi Price said that the drainage was insufficient due to its size and location. 

“A big problem was that there was not enough inlets on Third Street to catch the stormwater as it came down the city streets. So what didn’t make it into the very beginning ones would go down and flood the laundromat. There’s just way too much stormwater on Main Street,” Price explained.  

The project has reportedly been further complicated by workers hitting water mains and other utility lines; however, city officials say that, as of now, the project is still on schedule to be completed by late June. As work is completed in front of the businesses in that stretch (Mill Country Title, Douglas Hawkins-Shelter Insurance, Options Pregnancy and Michelle’s Shear Artistry), clients should call ahead and see if they are able to enter through the business’s back doors.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423