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Culvert repair project to have minimal effect on Barge Bash

April 15, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Tom Rokisky steers his barge "Banana Split" on the waters of the C&O Canal in Hancock at the 2008 Barge Bash.
File photo,

HANCOCK - Hancock officials learned more details Wednesday night about a $1.8 million culvert repair project that requires part of the C&O Canal to be kept dry, and about a dike system that will allow the town to hold its annual Barge Bash despite the project.

The temporary dike will be made of clay and will be installed near a footbridge across the canal about 40 feet upstream from the boat ramp to the Potomac River, allowing the section from the boat ramp to the dike to be rewatered, Brian Carlstrom, deputy superintendent of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, said Wednesday. The area on the other side of the dike must be kept dry to allow for repair work on a stone culvert, he said.

The town is supplying the clay for the dike and the pipe that will be used to carry water through the dry portion of the canal, Carlstrom said.

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The solution means a shorter stretch of canal will be available for the Barge Bash than usual, but it is enough, Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said.

The Barge Bash is a popular Hancock event that includes a contest in which people construct creatively designed "barges" or boats to float down the canal.

With plans to rewater the canal in place, the town can now begin promoting this year's Barge Bash, which is scheduled for June 26, Murphy said.

New at this year's Barge Bash will be a one-mile race called the "Bash Dash," which will begin at Hancock Junior/Senior High School and finish at the site of the Barge Bash, he said. The race will start at 10 a.m. and a fun run will start at 10:15 a.m., according to a flier about the event. More information is available from the Washington County Recreation Department.

Carlstrom also made a presentation to the Hancock Town Council about the culvert repair project, which is being funded with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

The culvert, at mile 124.3 of the canal, is the largest culvert on the canal, at 130 feet long, 40 feet wide and 14 feet, 9 inches deep, Carlstrom said. It was constructed in 1836.

The culvert is failing, with water leaking through it, missing mortar, and masonry blocks starting to fall out of place in the arch, Carlstrom said.

"It's really at the point where it's near failure," he said.

The project will go out to bid this month and officials hope to wrap up construction in September, Carlstrom said.

The repairs involve replacing the existing clay liner with a synthetic one and stabilizing the inside of the arch with a grout material, he said.

The method of construction used will have minimal impact on the stream and will allow the road and towpath to remain open during the repair work, he said.

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