These recent weather extremes had a profound effect on our Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway. The dry month of August, although not good for our lawns, meant that the Greenway was open when temperatures, although near 100 on some afternoons, made being on the Greenway 24/7 dry and accessible.
While we were being doused by the record rains, I took a tour of the Greenway and found only tiny portions of it visible. Floodwaters licked at the top of the bridges that crossed over the Greenway such as at 17th, 20th and 25th streets. The benches were almost completely inundated. I was curious about the historic marker recently installed and although covered it was very much in place, as was the new water fountain. The waters were high enough to reach a foot inside the restroom off Harris Circle, but even if the waters went higher the restroom was built to withstand a flood of this magnitude. For the first time since it had been erected almost two years ago, the Greenway playground had about a foot of water covering its base.
A bit further north, the pedestrian bridge at Tinsley Park had water rushing over it for the first time since it was installed last December. And at Mohawk Drive, where the Greenway ends, the entire wetlands area was a large lake and water was even flowing over Mohawk, completely covering the recently installed gravel parking area and driveway.
The portion of our Greenway most affected by the weather extremes is the construction of Phase 5, taking place most visibly at Raider Drive. A rain-free August meant good progress could be made on the new passage under the Raider Drive bridge. New drainage pipes have been placed and excavation of the earth from under the bridge is moving along. Just a few sandbags had been needed to keep the Mouse Creek waters at bay to allow construction to go on.
Watching the waters flow under Raider and reach high enough to lap at the construction equipment parked a few yards away meant there would be a few days of water recession and cleanup ahead before work could resume on the project. Thankfully, there were those dry days of August to make good progress.
The beauty of our Greenway is that even though it was completely covered, within minutes of when the water recedes people are back on it as usual. Except for the inevitable spots of mud, the Greenway was in full swing within 24 hours.
The floods remind us again about the vulnerability of greenways to flooding and reiterates why their placement along rivers and streams across the country is accepted practice. For obvious reasons, no buildings can be built in an area prone to this kind of flooding. It's the reason so many owners of property in a flood zone are willing to see greenways beautify the area. And except for these few periods of inconvenience, our community gets to enjoy that beauty.