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Big Creek Greenway and Sawnee Mountain Preserve close to deal with storm damage

Two of Forsyth County’s outdoor attractions are closed to allow workers to repair storm damage from then-Tropical Storm Irma.

Matt Pate, natural resources director for Forsyth County Parks, said approximately 20 trees fell on the Big Creek Greenway and about another 15 fell at Sawnee Mountain Preserve after rain and high winds on Monday.

“At Sawnee, we were lucky that none of the trees fell and caused structural damage – it was mostly on the trail system,” Pate said. “On the Greenway, we lost seven of 12-foot-by-12-foot areas that are going to have to be repaired.”

Pate said work began on Thursday and that he expects areas on Bethelview and Majors roads to be completed by next week but that work on Union Hill and McFarland roads will take a few extra days.

“Those are going to be last on the list because of their location and their distance to parking lots,” he said. “Logistically, we have to take in everything and take it all out, so we’re worried about weight limits and stuff.”

Sawnee has a much shorter turnaround and was, as of earlier in the week, expected to be open at some point on Sept. 15.

“Each section we have to repair, they’re going to have to reset posts into concrete, and the cure time is what holds us back,” Pate said.

Pate said the costs of repairs isn’t known but should be available next week and said most of the damage was structural and had to be completed before moving on to another section.

“There’s not a lot of damage in one place. It’s in multiple areas. You may go 20 to 30 feet and there’s a section damaged and you can’t get vehicles and stuff through to repair that piece, and then you move on to the next one,” he said. “It’s not extensive [damage] – it’s just where it’s at.”

Pate said the department hopes for the community’s patience with the closure.

“We know it’s a popular amenity and folks love to use it,” Pate said. “If we can just keep folks out while we work, it just helps us work quicker and we don’t put anyone else’s life in danger.”