with slideshow: Embankment failure closes Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor, floods shut two county routes
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
(Update: City officials announced that Plymouth Road is open again as of early Friday afternoon. See the story here.)
Heavy rains Wednesday caused an embankment failure under the railroad tracks that run parallel to Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor, closing the road and buckling the tracks.
The road is expected to be closed for most of the day today. Ann Arbor Railroad officials told police last night that it would take two to three weeks to makes the tracks usable again. No trains had to be stopped because of the embankment collapsed, according to Lt. Myron Blackwell of Ann Arbor police.
About 2,000 cubic yards of mud and trees slid across five lanes of Plymouth Road around 9:23 p.m. Wednesday after three inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period, an Ann Arbor official said.
A notice posted on the city's website said Plymouth Road is closed between Barton Drive and Broadway while crews work to clear both lanes after an embankment failure occurred late Wednesday night due to heavy rain.
Ann Arbor Police called the Ann Arbor Railroad at about 10 p.m., and inspectors were on the scene by 11:30 p.m.
"There was never any danger of trains being derailed because of this," Blackwell said.
Clearing the roadway is slow going, according to an e-mail sent to Ann Arbor City Council members at 9 a.m. today.
"Trees have to be removed pulled out of the mud and then loaders can take a few scoops of mud, then more trees removed," the official wrote. "This sequence has to be repeated thousands of times to work through the mass of material."
Crews are at the scene trying to clear away debris from the street. A large section of the embankment washed out from beneath the tracks, leaving them unsupported. The collapse is east of the intersection of Traver Road and Bowen Street.
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
City Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, who lives near the embankment collapse, walked to the area to examine the damage around 8 a.m. today. She said neighbors who live on Traver Road said they lost the pond in their back yards when the embankment gave way. “The railroad embankment among other things held up a pond," Briere said. "The pond was spring fed. When the embankment failed the pond let loose, the pond behind houses on Traver Road is now gone.”
Sarah Byers, who has lived on Traver Road for 25 years, heard about the mudslide from a neighbor last night and walked into the woods behind her house at 7:30 a.m. today to check it out. She found that a 45-yard long section of the foundation of the railroad tracks had been swept away, leaving a massive hole.
"When I looked through the trees, I could see there was nothing beneath the tracks," she said. "But I had no idea. It was pretty wild."
Heavy rains Wednesday have also caused flooding on other roads.
In Scio Township, Liberty Road west of Zeeb Road is flooded and has been closed, said Jim Harmon, director of operations for the Washtenaw County Road Commission.
In Salem Township, Chubb Road between Six Mile Road and Seven Mile Road is closed due to severe flooding and road washout, the Road Commission said. The road will remain closed to the public until further notice.
Lima Center Road between Hieber Road and Bethel Church Road in Freedom Township remains closed because of earlier flooding.
Harmon said water has receded on some roads that were flooded Wednesday.
View Plymouth Road closed in a larger map
Reporters Lee Higgins and Juliana Keeping contributed to this report.