Thursday, January 17, 2013

Whither the MetroCenter levee?

Two years ago reporters were writing about the "what ranks among the most significant levee projects in Davidson County history":

Mike Wilson, Nashville District USACE deputy district engineer for project management, said Wednesday that Mobile, Ala.-based DRC Emergency Services recently was awarded an approximately $1.4 million contract to finish work on the three-mile segment of the MetroCenter levee along the Cumberland River.

“This is one of the, if not the, single-most significant levee improvement projects the corps has overseen in Davidson County,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the main focus is to remove trees from within 15 feet of the toe of the levee, the point at which the sloping face of the levee interfaces with natural elements and intersects the river.

Work on the massive levee, which is made primarily of impervious clay, initially began in 2001 and ran through 2004. Some additional updates have been done since then.

Unless "impervious clay" has a specialized, technical meaning at odds with the common understanding of "impervious" as "impenetrable" or "unaffected by", a look at this video shot on Sunday, May 2, 2010 of deteriorating soil (start at 2:42 for a close up of erosion in process) indicates to this untrained layperson that at least the top layer of this levee was not impervious to large amounts of water:


Lately, I can find no follow-up or other indication in the local news media that the historic project had been finished as per planning. Anyone aware of any follow-up stories on the MetroCenter levee renovations? Via private contractor website, the road was resurfaced. Here is a local blogger who posted last November first-hand descriptions of some of the levee reinforcements.

On a related note, this week the Army Corps of Engineers issued a "presolicitation notice" for private companies to submit bids on more levee repair by March 1, 2013:

The Nashville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intends to issue an Invitation for Bid (IFB) for a firm fixed price construction contract for slope repairs to the Metro Center Levee ....

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The scope of this project is to repair and reinforce a section of levee embankment and clear an area of vegetation located at Metro Center .... The landward side of the levee has settled in the direction of a chain link fence which belongs to an adjacent property owner. The project includes excavation, installation of a gabion retaining wall, placing fill, clearing, grubbing, seeding, and an erosion control to be cleared and grubbed is approximately 320 feet in length and is located on the riverward side of the levee.

Any other links you know of on the progress of this project would be greatly appreciated by those of us who live near the levee.

UPDATE: Related article: Deficient Levees Found Across America


  1. Im glad the greenway finally reopened. It took years for the path to be replaced.

  2. I followed this project somewhat since I bike the this greenway constantly in good weather. The work was supposed to be complete in July 2012, but it seems work continues, especially at the area by the MetroCenter lake where it connects to the river. The 'closed' signs have been removed, though they never really deterred people from using the greenway.

  3. That are is now fenced off. Looks like they're doing civil work on the pumps there.

  4. The COE plan is to remove vegetation, which provides natural stabilization for the soil, and replace it with man-made structures. Because of course anything natural is faulty, and must be replaced with an engineered structure instead. The more logical approach would have been to leave the vegetation that had sprouted up in the levy and allow it to bind the soil as vegetation has done for a VERY long time on this planet. Remove vegetation and you destabilize soil. It's a pretty simple formula.