Kinston Free Press Aug. 29, 2007

Designs 80 percent complete, expect to finish by January

David Anderson
Staff Writer

After more than four years of planning, acquiring land and obtaining permits, state and city officials working to restore a section of Adkin Branch expect to finish their designs early next year and begin construction by next spring.

“The design is about 80 percent complete,” said Kristie Corson, an environmental specialist with the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program.

The EEP, which is funding the $2.7 million project, was formed in 2003 through a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the N.C. Department of Transportation and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Transportation officials commissioned a pilot program in 2002 to restore 800 feet of the stream near the Holloway Community Center in southeast Kinston, Corson said.

That project inspired the EEP’s effort to reshape the banks along nearly two miles of stream between N.C. 55 and Lincoln Street.

The current effort involves reshaping eroding stream banks. Workers will remove vertical bulkheads that private property owners have built along the banks in an attempt to prevent flooding, and convert the now-vertical banks to a sloped form.

Vegetation will also be planted adjacent to the stream, which connects to the Neuse River, to act as a buffer against runoff pollution and sediment flow, Corson said.

“Doing that, we can create a floodplain that will increase the floodwater capacity,” she said.

Corson explained that the sloped banks and vegetated buffers will reconnect Adkin Branch to “its natural floodplain” by giving it more space to flow and making floods less severe.

“When there is a rain event and the water starts to rise, it has an area to flood naturally,” she said.
Those working on the project had to acquire 160 parcels of city-owned land along the stream banks and 40 privately-owned parcels.

The city-owned properties were easy to get, since municipal officials were “very keen on doing the project,” Corson said.

The private owners were more of a challenge, since each one had to sign a conservation easement to permit use of their land. Every property owner but one signed easements, so the project will be designed around that parcel.

Three Raleigh-based engineering and environmental consulting firms have been hired for the project, and designers expect to finish their plans by January. Corson said construction is expected to begin by next May.

The Process

Officials with the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program must secure three federal and state permits before construction begins on the Adkin Branch restoration project.

Project leaders have earned two, and will apply for the third once designs are complete.

The permits are as follows:
- Section 401 certification, N.C. Division of Water Quality
Section 404, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Erosion and Sedimentation control, Land Quality Section, N.C. Division of Land Resources
(Not yet acquired)

For more information on the EEP, visit www.nceep.net

David Anderson can be reached at (252) 559-1077, or danderson@freedomenc.com