NORTH FORSYTH — Intended to alleviate flooding in the area, five culverts recently installed under a north Forsyth road have also helped protect turtles attempting to cross it.
Tim Allen, assistant director of Forsyth County’s engineering department, said the inability of the previous culverts to handle heavy rain often forced Gravitt Road to close.
“We had already identified that culvert through the last winter’s rain events as needing to be upsized,” Allen said. “It was grossly undersized to handle the stormwater.
“It had one 48-inch concrete pipe … It needed five 48-inch pipes.”
Allen said the culverts were finished last week on Gravitt, which runs between Spot Road and Matt Highway (Hwy. 369), west of Coal Mountain.
While there hasn’t been any heavy rainfall yet, county officials believe the new pipes will help prevent flooding and road closures.
Residents say they also carry the added bonus of aiding turtles.
Bill and Betsy Brooks, who live along the road and have been monitoring wildlife activity in the area, contacted the county about their concerns with turtles getting struck by passing vehicles.
Betsy Brooks estimated that about 200 turtles have been killed where the culverts have been installed, about a quarter mile from Spot Road. And there have been many more near-misses.
“Many neighbors would stop and have their story to share of how many turtles they’ve moved,” Bill Brooks said.
The previous culvert was perched, meaning it sat above the level of the nearby stream. Turtles and other animals such as beavers couldn’t travel through it, forcing them into the road if they wanted to cross.
The couple said they are happy the animals have a safer route.
“We’ve been talking to the folks in engineering for quite some time now, about four years,” Betsy Brooks said. “We’re just pleased that they’ve made these improvements.”
Bill Brooks was also pleased with the project’s completion.
“Hats off to the county that they were able to work this into their budget and do it in a proper manner,” he said.