Part of large retaining wall collapses at Tryon Elem.

Published 1:55 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Polk County Schools is moving quickly to repair or replace a three-tiered retaining wall, which has partially collapsed in front of Tryon Elementary School.A middle section of the old, stone wall collapsed recently on to a lower retaining wall and large cracks have developed in other sections of the walls.School officials say they believe recent heavy rainfall contributed to the damage, and theyre concerned more rain could cause all three levels of the wall to collapse on to School Street below.Polk County Schools Supt. Bill Miller said he wonders whether such a collapse would impact the structure of the nearby school auditorium. A portable building is also located above the retaining walls.Its a major problem and really could get a lot worse, Miller told the Polk school board at its meeting Monday. In the end, its going to be a significant sum of money to fix.Polk County Schools doesnt have any funds budgeted for the repair and damage to such walls isnt covered by insurance, so the school district will have to pull funds from savings. Miller said he isnt sure if the project can be completed during school or will have to wait until the summer. He added that a further collapse of the walls could make an already difficult traffic situation at the school much worse.The school board voted Monday to grant Miller emergency powers to do whatevers necessary in case the walls collapse before an engineer reviews the problem and a company is hired for the repair project.It concerns me that there are fissures and cracks in the walls, said school board chairman Geoff Tennant. Just looking at it I fear if something is not done fairly quickly, those walls will come down.Its not a matter of if they will come down, but when, and I think a total collapse could cause structural issues for those buildings.School board member Rick Covil said he noticed that cracks in the walls had worsened just in the past week due to rain. The school system already has requested an engineer to examine the walls and provide an estimate for the project. Miller said he was not sure how much the work will cost.

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