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Heavy rains cause big problems at Nauvoo Temple

City and church crews remove water-logged soil at the annex site

SHARE Heavy rains cause big problems at Nauvoo Temple

NAUVOO, Ill. — The hole is big enough to drive a truck through. Officials say if they had waited longer, someone might have.

Workers spent Monday and Tuesday digging a hole under Bluff Street to prevent a section of retaining wall at the Nauvoo Temple construction site from collapsing.

Barry Cuthbert, the city's public works superintendent, said his employees joined workers from the temple site to remove water-logged dirt that had pushed the metal wall some 15 inches.

The wall, built by driving metal pilings into bedrock, keeps dirt out of what eventually will become a utility annex for the temple.

Nearly 5 inches of rain fell last Saturday on Nauvoo, Cuthbert said, causing water to pool up behind the pilings. No one realized it until Sunday, however, when the pavement began to settle and crack over a buried 8-inch water main.

"The nail in the coffin was Sunday night," he said.

It was considered a relatively minor problem until Monday, when officials closed Bluff Street between the temple site and City Hall.

"We didn't even stop traffic until late yesterday morning," he said Tuesday.

City officials initially took the step out of concern for what damage the vibration of passing vehicles would do. Later, however, it was decided to remove the retaining wall and replace it with a sloping surface.

Project manager Ron Prince said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will pick up the tab for the city's expenses and those of mechanical systems contractor Carl A. Nelson and Co. of Burlington, Iowa.

"If you get heavy rains in this area, that's what we have to put up with," Prince said.

Officials first worried an 8-inch water main beneath the street might have sprung a leak. The line was isolated to avoid disrupting the availability of city water, Cuthbert said.

Upon unearthing the main, officials discovered there were no problems with it.

There were, however, problems with the surrounding soil. Water was flowing though underground layers of rock and clay into the soil, causing it to become saturated.

City and church officials both described the problem as more of an annoyance than a crisis.

"This is moving along very rapidly," Prince said of the temple construction scheduled to wrap up by the fall of 2001. "We're on schedule."

He said the annex, which will house air conditioning units, boilers for heating and other mechanical equipment, is not a critical part of the construction. There will be other problems, however.

"It will cost more money," he said.

Getting the street back in order will take from two weeks to two months, Cuthbert said.

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