| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – The main roadway into Forest Park has been reopened, but the funding to make the permanent repairs to stabilize the embankment supporting Main Greeting Road have not yet been determined.
According to a report written for the city by GZA GeoEnvironmental about the embankment and the outlet conduit for Swan Pond, “The current circumstances represent a clear threat to public health and safety and the environment. Based on our findings, GZA urges the city of Springfield to immediately execute a program to design and construct permanent repairs to the Swan Pond outlet conduit, because the conduit’s deficiencies are severe, unresolved, and expected to worsen over time.”
The organization recommended that until permanent repairs are made, the city should “maintain the water level in Swan Pond at the target elevation of two feet below the normal spillway elevation (i.e., elevation 135.8 feet above sea level); monitor and record the water level in Swan Pond on a daily basis, including recording of rainfall amounts each day; maintain the ability to continuously pump Swan Pond at a rate not less than 2,000 gallons per minute in the case of prolonged precipitation; and monitor the downstream slope condition, by a qualified engineer familiar with the Site conditions and recent soil boring data, on a frequency not less than once per week, and following rainfall events where the water level in the pond has been observed to rise six inches or greater above the pump-maintained target elevation, or when embankment soils have the potential to become saturated due to extended precipitation events; and have an Emergency Action Plan in place to be prepared to immediately re-close the Main Greeting Road at a moment’s notice and close off pedestrian access to and evacuate Meadowbrook Ravine area immediately downstream of the embankment, should any conditions warrant such action.
Patrick Sullivan, executive director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, said, “At the completion of the drawdown last week, it became apparent that the culvert is collapsed or otherwise plugged and water was seeping through the embankment soils. This necessitated having to take soil borings to determine the integrity of the road infrastructure prior to reopening. The testing results indicated there were no voids in the embankment below the road, however we will be performing daily monitoring of the level of the pond as well as the western slope of the embankment.”
The report noted the masonry embankment is at least 130 years old.
GZA GeoEnvironmental estimated the cost to repair the damage would be $3 million.
Mayor Domenic Sarno released the following statement: “I appreciate the residents’ patience and understanding during this geotechnical investigative work. I am happy to announce the road can be reopened and ensure the structure is safe for park patrons. My office has been in contact with the governor and lt. governor and I am confident we will have good news as we review the options in the rebuilding of the road and culvert. I appreciate the cooperation received from Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, and EEA [Energy and Environmental Affairs] Secretary Beaton in exploring all avenues to repair or rebuild this earthen structure and culvert. We will be finalizing our preliminary engineering report at the end of this week and submitting it to the Commonwealth for their review. As always, our governor is only a phone call away to assist our city and this is greatly appreciated.”