Grundy

Grundy is the county seat of Buchanan County
Grundy is the county seat of Buchanan County
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

The Town of Grundy is located on the floodplain of the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River, which flows into the Ohio River just upstream of Ashland, Kentucky. The Levisa Fork floods regularly, causing damage and deaths. A 1977 flood killed three people in Buchanan County.

the 1977 Levisa Fork flood damaged courthouse records in Buchanan County
the 1977 Levisa Fork flood damaged courthouse records in Buchanan County
Source: Library of Virginia, The Virginia Public Records Act Marks 35 Years

In the 1990's, the Corps of Engineers planned to build a flood wall that would displace some of the commercial properties between US 460 and the river.

At the same time, the Virginia Department of Transportation planned to widen US 460 from a 2-lane highway into a 4-lane highway. The strip of one-story, separate commercial structures on the east side of the Levisa Fork would be destroyed as US 460 was expanded, causing more disruption to "downtown" Grundy.

The worst-case scenario was for just an isolated remnant of the commercial district to remain, after the flood wall was built and the highway widened. In an innovative partnership, the Federal and state agencies worked with local officials to create a different solution.

The state widened US 460, tearing down buildings to construct the new road. The US Army Corps of Engineers built a new floodwall along the right bank of Levisa Fork in 2008. It protects the remaining portion of the commercial district that was not displaced by the widened highway:1

The system consists of 787 feet of concrete floodwall and 607 feet of levee/highway. It has one pumping station and two traffic openings that must be closed quickly during a flood event.

where flooding could occur due to failure of the levee system or overtopping during a major Levisa Fork flood
where flooding could occur due to failure of the levee system or overtopping during a major Levisa Fork flood
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers National Levee Database, Grundy, VA, LPP

Nearly all of Grundy's commercial district on the east side of the Levisa Fork was replaced by a concentrated new development, Grundy Town Center, located on the other (west) side of the river.

the Buchanan County Courthouse was not moved, and remained on the east side of the Levisa River (as viewed from Grundy Town Center)
the Buchanan County Courthouse was not moved, and remained on the east side of the Levisa River (as viewed from Grundy Town Center)

a pedestrian bridge across the Levisa River connected the Grundy Town Center to the Buchanan County Courthouse beyond US 460
a pedestrian bridge across the Levisa River connected the Grundy Town Center to the Buchanan County Courthouse beyond US 460

For the Grundy Town Center, engineers expanded a flat plateau on the west side of the Levisa Fork, high enough to be safe from predicted floods. A new three-story structure was built to create a new shopping district on that plateau. The building includes a two-story parking garage faced on three sides by different retail stores. A Wal*Mart SuperCenter, with a grocery store, opened on the third floor.

Wal*Mart shoppers use escalators to climb to that top floor. Parallel to the excalators are unusual tracks to move loaded shopping carts filled with goods and groceries down to the second or first floor where customers park their cars.

The Federal government and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDT) jointly financed a large percentage of the $28 million cost of creating a new commercial center above the 1977 flood elevation, and to rebuild/raise US 460 to serve as a levee to provide flood protection.

red polygon indicates site for new Grundy Town Center, before commercial strip along US 460 was moved across the Levisa River
red polygon indicates site for new Grundy Town Center, before commercial strip along US 460 was moved across the Levisa River
Source: US Army Corps of Engineers

most stores upstream of Slate Creek were eliminated by widening US 460, and retail businesses were concentrated in one building across the Levisa Fork (with the new Wal*Mart in the third story)
most stores upstream of Slate Creek were eliminated by widening US 460, and retail businesses were concentrated in one building across the Levisa Fork (with the new Wal*Mart in the third story)
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

the Buchanan County courthouse remained on the east side of the Levisa Fork, and a small flood control gate was built on Slate Creek to protect the courthouse
the Buchanan County courthouse remained on the east side of the Levisa Fork, and a small flood control gate was built on Slate Creek to protect the courthouse
Source: US Geological Survey (USGS), 7.5-minute Grundy topographical quadrangle (2016)

Wal*Mart is on the third floor of Grundy Town Center
Wal*Mart is on the third floor of Grundy Town Center
Buchanan County Courthouse was not moved from its site in Grundy
Buchanan County Courthouse was not moved from its site in Grundy
the commercial district of Grundy was moved across the Levisa Fork and is now achored by a WalMart
the commercial district of Grundy was moved across the Levisa Fork and is now achored by a Wal*Mart
the Clinchfield Railroad beat the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) and built the line through the Breaks
the Clinchfield Railroad beat the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) and built the line through the Breaks

(click on images for larger versions)

Appalachian School of Law is located in Grundy
Appalachian School of Law is located in Grundy
the Grundy WalMart, on the third floor, has escalators for people and special tracks for shopping carts
the Grundy Wal*Mart, on the third floor, has escalators for people and special tracks for shopping carts
the flood wall gate is closed to protect the courthouse and remains of downtown Grundy, if Slate Creek floods
the flood wall gate is closed to protect the courthouse and remains of downtown Grundy, if Slate Creek floods
US 460, looking east from new bridge across Levisa Fork leading to new Grundy
US 460, looking east from new bridge across Levisa Fork leading to new Grundy

(click on images for larger versions)

the mountain west of the Levisa Fork was cut back to make room for Grundy Town Center
the mountain west of the Levisa Fork was cut back to make room for Grundy Town Center

Buchanan County

Floods

Levees of Virginia

Grundy in 1998, with developed properties along US 460
Grundy in 1998, with developed properties along US 460
Source: Google Earth

Grundy in 2015
Grundy in 2015
Source: Google Earth

Links

References

1. "Grundy, VA, LPP," National Levee Database, US Army Corps of Engineers, https://levees.sec.usace.army.mil/#/levees/system/3305000029/summary (last checked May 9, 2020)

the Levisa Fork is normally a small river at Grundy
the Levisa Fork is normally a small river at Grundy

Slate Creek flows past the Appalachian School of Law and into the Levisa River at Grundy
Slate Creek flows past the Appalachian School of Law and into the Levisa River at Grundy


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