Public asked to stay away from Shoal Creek area after more trees, rocks tumble

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austinites are advised to stay away from the Shoal Creek landslide area after more soil, rock and trees came tumbling down following Wednesday’s rain

The area in question is on the west side of Shoal Creek, roughly between 24th Street and Shoal Creek Boulevard, officials say. 

“Debris from the landslide area is again partially blocking Shoal Creek,” officials wrote. “This poses an increased flood risk for Lamar Boulevard and a few buildings in this area.” 

In a news conference Thursday, Project Manager at the Watershed Protection Department Diana Wang said: “The bottom of the slope should be treated as an extremely dangerous area. Further movement can happen at any time, and we’ve said that from the very first observation of the movement in that area. It’s just not safe.”

However, besides monitoring, there’s no immediate action the city can take to fix the slope.

“Any construction or activity at the bottom of the slope is still dangerous,” Wang explained.

In addition, since the original landslide happened a year ago, the city’s had to negotiate with the homeowners whose backyards were damaged to come up with a repair plan. 

“It takes some time, and both the city and the property owners have certain interests, and we want to make sure those interests are properly served,” said Eric Loucks, Supervising Engineer. 

The Watershed Protection Department had shared with KXAN last month a repair plan. 

It involved drilling vertically into the ground to install two retaining walls. 

With more damage now, Wang said, “The system would remain largely the same, but because there was additional movement, there might need to be an additional wall and anchors for that stretch of the movement that we observed.”

For people who use the popular biking and walking trail, the fix can’t come soon enough.

“It’s been a year and we want a solution. The situation out there is not going to get better. It’s going to get worse. It’s a dangerous situation,” said Heath Riddles with Pease Park Conservancy.

He said since the landslide, people have stopped coming to Pease Park. 

“This is 300 feet of the most beloved part of the trail in Pease Park,” he said. “It is quintessential Pease Park. You get everything. You have the forest on one side. You have creek on the other. It’s everything that people love about Pease Park. It’s a shame to see it closed down.”

Flooding concerns heightened

With debris now in the creek, flooding is one of the biggest concerns. 

First, there are issues with the debris acting as a dam and creating a back up upstream. 

In a situation like this, the city says if it rains, and the creek floods, the flood level can be anywhere from a half foot to one and a half feet higher. 

And second, if there is significant flooding, the creek runs along North Lamar Boulevard, which is a very busy road.

Flood Plain Administrator Kevin Shunk said: “That flood risk is really just tailored to North Lamar itself. I think the risk to buildings is minimal, other than, if those buildings have access to Lamar, it could be an issue. Just basically, along North Lamar.”

City officials also added that with trails that are open, people should always watch out for the potential for the water levels rising rapidly.

If you slip, the water can sweep you away quickly. 

They are reminding the public to stay out of any closed trails and do not go near fast moving creeks. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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