Originally Published: August 23, 2018 8:22 p.m.
Even as monsoon rains are filling up Prescott’s lakes and greening up area hills, the frequent storms also are wreaking havoc on the city’s streets and trails.
With virtually one rainstorm after another over the past six weeks or so, Prescott Street Maintenance Superintendent Bobbie King said crews have been kept busy cleaning up muddy deposits and rock slides on city streets.
And in the Prescott Recreation Services department, significant effort has focused on fixing the popular Peavine Trail after a July 18 microburst washed out a 1,000-foot stretch of the historic rail-route-turned-recreational trail.
So far this summer, King says about $92,000 has gone into the labor, materials, and transfer station tipping fees needed to clean up the streets after monsoon storms.
“That is since the rain started in July,” King said.
While areas such as Yavapai Hills and Sundog Ranch Road have been especially hard hit, she said the remainder of the city also saw its share of damage.
Comparatively, King said this year’s monsoon damage is “probably a little higher” than in previous years, although she noted that monsoons typically lead to plenty of street maintenance work.
“We’re usually just slammed this time of the year,” she said.
For the recreation department, the damage to the Peavine was unprecedented.
Along with gouging a hole that measured 26 feet deep and 80 feet across, the storm runoff water also washed out a historic railroad bridge that has stood since the late 1880s/early 1890s.
At the time, Recreation Services Director Joe Baynes said the storm, which dumped 3.1 inches in the area, likely was a 500-year event.
City workers got started almost immediately on repairs to the trail, which sees about 90,000 visitors a year.
Within about a week, a parallel alternative route was built alongside the old route, allowing users to get from the Sundog Ranch Road Trailhead to the remainder of the 6-mile trail.
Baynes noted that he met early on with City Manager Michael Lamar to talk about a long-term fix. They determined that the original trail route would be restored, and that the work would be done in-house by city staff.
“This is a National Recreation Trail, and we thought it was important to stay with the historic route,” Baynes said.
Using drone footage of the damage, it was determined that about 11,000 cubic yards of dirt had been washed out.
Dirt that had been stockpiled at the nearby transfer station was used to fill in the hole, Baynes said, adding that local company Empire Caterpillar donated the use of a track hoe to help rebuild the bridge abutments.
Baynes was onsite Thursday morning, Aug. 23, using the recreation department’s mini-excavator and skid steer to move a large boulder into place alongside the old railroad bridge, and to move dirt into place.
Today (Friday, Aug. 24), the volunteer trail-building group, the Over the Hill Gang, is scheduled to do the finishing work on the trail, and the trail is expected to reopen on its original route Saturday morning, Aug. 25.
Baynes estimates the cost of the repairs at about $8,000, involving $5,000 for labor, and $3,000 for fuel. Costs were kept low by using materials that were on hand, he said, noting, “There was no materials cost; it was all recycled asphalt.”
The effort also was aided by cooperation from other city departments, including streets and solid waste, Baynes said. In addition, the close proximity of the supply of dirt helped to speed up the project.
Use of the Peavine Trail has remained steady over the past month, Baynes said — largely because of the quick alternative route that Trails and Natural Parklands Coordinator Chris Hosking built in the days after the wash-out.
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