Depot Park in Christiansburg is closed and will remain closed until at least March as part of a stream restoration project.
Construction started this week on a $519,201 plan to create a properly-sized channel cross section of Towne Branch, a tributary of Crab Creek which flows through the park.
Town engineer Justin St. Clair pointed out the project has been in the works for nearly four years with the bidding process previously coming in over budget, thus it was rebidded in the past six months.
This project, according to St. Clair, involves restoring approximately 1,995 linear feet of Towne Branch.
“It will improve water quality along the stream and reduce erosion,” he said.
Native trees, shrubs and wildflowers will be planted as part of the project, and in some cases, existing trees will be used as part of the stream bank anchoring effort.
“We hope to leave as many trees as possible, and in the case of the ones that have to be removed, we hope they can become part of the overall project serving as part of the stream’s bank itself,” St. Clair said.
Construction crews will also straighten out the creek bed as at several locations and add a culvert where the public can cross the stream. A wooden bridge is planned for the park at a later date when the restoration project is completed. That bridge would tie the park into a trail, which would meander its way to the Aquatics Center.
The stream restoration will also create an environment where aquatic creatures could thrive. St. Clair said at its present state, the stream is not a healthy environment to support these creatures.
In addition, the project will provide more stability for storm water runoff and will filter out pollution in the stream.
“When completed, this project will allow us to have a better solution for runoff and erosion associated with it,” St. Clair said.
Two other similar storm water projects, Oak Tree and Diamond Hills, have been completed in the past three years.
One of the best components of the Depot Park restoration is the fact it will provide an outdoor “lab” for students to learn about the organisms that live there and how the environment is affected by storm water.
At several locations, according to St. Clair, the public will be able to walk down to the stream and rock formations will allow individuals to sit along the side of the stream.
The project is being partially funded by a combination of a grant from the Virginia Department Environmental Quality Storm Water Assistance Fund and the town’s storm water enterprise fund.
Towne Branch flows into Crab Creek, which then makes its way into the New River. A 2004 Department of Environment Quality report showed the creek had a high level of fecal coliform bacteria. The Depot Park storm water project is projected to reduce those numbers up to 300 tons a year.
The neighboring skate park will also be closed temporarily at some point during the Depot Park construction to ensure the public’s safety. Signs will be posted to alert skaters and the public when that does happen.