09 October 2005

Erosion, in real time

At the bottom of my street separating all the houses from the main road is a small bridge over a creek. The bridge is nothing fancy; except for guard rails on either side, it looks just like the rest of the road. Three metal culverts let water pass below it. All summer long the creek has been very low, a meager trickle with barely enough water for little fish to navigate between all the rocks.

When I looked out the window today, the creek had risen far enough up the banks that I could easily see the muddy waters raging from the house. Nine inches of rain in one day will do that. Some orange traffic cones were set by the edge of the bridge, and it looked like the guard rail was further back from the road than usual, as if it had been forced back by all the water. If the upstream openings to the culverts get blocked by debris, the road will flood.

Late last night there were several trucks with flashing lights on the other side of the bridge with men out working. The road wasn't flooded at the time, but it probably had been until they arrived.

I walked down to the creek to get a better look. The guard rail hadn't moved, the edge of the road collapsed. There's a gap ranging from one to two feet between the downstream rail and the road. The safety cones mark the road's new edge. I think I'll stick to driving down the middle for the time being.