A portion of the North River Road Trail, blocked by a pair of landslides this spring, will remain closed. During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Andy Dorian, director of the Hannibal Parks & Recreation Department, detailed his plan to keep the southern portion of the trail barricaded.
The landslides happened in late May in approximately the same area where a landslide occurred in 2009. Because slides have occurred in the area before, Dorian has significant safety concerns.
“The current slide has the potential to get worse at any moment especially with significant amounts of rainfall,” wrote Dorian in a memo to the Council. “A significant chunk of hillside broke away near the top of the hill bringing with it dirt, rock and trees. Even if we were to spend significant amounts of money to clear the trees, rocks and dirt there would be no guarantee that there would not be another slide. In fact the consensus is that removing the dirt, rocks and trees would actually cause the adjacent areas on either side of the landslide to break free as well.”
The cost of removing the debris that covers the trail is another factor in not reopening the walkway.
“To remove the material from both landslides would be a significant cost,” wrote Dorian. “With the area being so narrow, it is very difficult and dangerous to get equipment in, which greatly increases the cost. To remove the material would require heavy equipment which will lead to the existing asphalt trail being damaged. To try and solve future landslides in this area would result in an extensive and costly engineering study plus a major construction project with one estimate being upwards of $1 million.”
In 2009, it was initially estimated the cleanup would cost between $30,000 and $50,000. However, a local contractor performed the work for $8,750.
Dorian noted that not far beyond the landslides the trail technically ends. However, many walkers and bikers going south ignore the end of the trail fencing and continue on toward downtown.
“In closing the trail at the landslide we will be closing a couple hundred feet of trail that technically is supposed to be a dead end anyway. Soap Hollow Trail was built a few years ago to address the problem of not having a safe way to get to downtown from River Road Trail. Soap Hollow Trail is located on the other side of the park and is an asphalted trail built so that people can access Riverview from downtown,” said Dorian.
The Parks Department’s plan is to fence off the area right in front of the landslide and to extend the fence where the trail technically ends to try and keep people out of that area. Signage will then be erected on both sides of the landslide area to warn the public of the potential danger.
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