Repairs take longer than expected

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The repairs to Flint Street should be completely finished soon, Eureka Springs public works director Dwayne Allen said last week.

A tunnel for storm drainage runs under downtown Eureka Springs, Allen said, which ultimately caused the area under Flint Street and the Grand Central Hotel’s private parking lot to collapse. Repair work began in June, and Allen said he originally expected the project to last about 30 days. Now, Allen said, he expects it to last about 60 days.

Escape Room 13 owner Charles Mowrey said the construction has impacted foot traffic and made it more difficult for people to navigate the downtown area. But he has not seen a drop in revenue for Escape Room 13, which is close to the construction area.

Damon Henke, interim director of the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce, said the repairs raised the frustration levels of tourists. To get to Douglass Inn, which Henke owns, guests have to take a half-mile detour.

Henke and Mowrey agreed that the largest impact was the lack of parking after the private lot collapsed. Mowrey said people had to circle the area for about 15 to 30 minutes to find a parking spot on busy days.

The private lot that collapsed has been reopened, Allen said, making parking spots at the Grand Central Hotel accessible again.

Although the repairs to Flint Street are not complete, Allen said, contractor Davis Construction has filled in the hole. Before the area is reopened, Davis Construction will put in a drain, Allen said. He said a separate company will repave the street. The city has not officially chosen a company to pave the area, Allen said.

“The bad spot was right under the city street, which was a disaster waiting to happen,” Allen said.

In the process of fixing the street, workers uncovered several artifacts, including two automobiles, Allen said, dating from 1910 to 1930.

The public works department has been monitoring the tunnel closely since 2010 when the city first surveyed it, Allen said. About a year and a half ago, he said, the city obtained a $220,000 grant and started the process to fix the tunnel under the street. But the repairs, which cost about $250,000, didn’t begin until June 11, Allen said.

Allen said he would like to divert the tunnel to avoid future collapses like this one, but that will not be possible until several million dollars become available for the project. At the moment, he said, there are not any other areas that need immediate attention.

“One of these days, we’ll have trouble under one of these buildings and that’s going to be a whole other situation,” Allen said.

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