Custody of a drainage ditch poses problems in AR - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Custody of a drainage ditch poses problems in AR

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

STRAWBERRY, AR (KAIT) - Strawberry city officials want a better solution to a growing problem.

A large ditch and a damaged drain pipe  in a parking lot are the results of excess traffic in a confined area, and Mayor John Veer wants it fixed.

This drainage ditch has been a bone of contention for several years. Owing to it's size and location surrounded by parking lot, several vehicles and trailers have driven down into the ditch. The pipe actually serves a simple function. Alan Walter, the District Maintenance Engineer for the Arkansas Highway Department said, "It's just a pipe underneath the highway to carry water from the North side of the Road to the South side of the road ."

Walter says the pipe has been there a long time. However, when it rains, water comes down into the ditch from several sides, slowly eating away the gravel. Recently the highway department added a little asphalt to prevent erosion.

Strawberry Mayor John Veer says there needs to be a way to keep people from driving into the ditch. Although he says it drains well and doesn't appear to be eroding quickly away.

Veer, "I would like to see it boxed in with a grate on top and a heavy duty grate to keep truck traffic from caving it in." The main pipe is smashed in at the top, apparently a victim of some kind of vehicular contact.

Walter says adding anything to the ditch is not planned at the moment. "That would be the responsibility of the property owner. Our drainage is working well the way it is."

According to Mayor Veer, County Judge Dale Freeman spoke to the Highway Department about fixing the drain. "They offered to take ownership of it more or less. They said they would take care of it." he told Region 8.

About two weeks ago the Highway Department installed reflectors on metal fence posts on the edge of the 30 foot long ditch.

 Walter, "It is kind of a wide driveway kind of area. We thought it would be better so they could see there is an open structure there."

Veer says the Judge told him that they didn't want anybody to fix it but them. Veer says he doesn't think that the reflectors are enough.

Walter says if the property owner, city or county want to make changes they have to apply for a permit and make sure that changes meet current Highway Department standards. He says that is normal and accepted procedure.

Walter, "Cities all over the area have decided they need this particular improvement or that one and opted to do that on their own."

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