Shoal Creek slope to be closely monitored due to rain

The scar from the landslide into the Shoal Creek greenbelt can still clearly be seen from Lamar Blvd. "Right now the slope is holding, that’s good news,” said Mike Kelly, who is lead engineer with Austin Watershed Protection. But looks can be deceiving, warned Kelly.

"We are still concern that its apt to move." 

There's concern because the hillside is made up of fractured limestone.

The rock sits on top of what can become a slippery layer of clay.

"It’s not advised to go and stand on the edge of that cliff looking for cracks,” said Kelly. 

The slope failure happened on May 4th. It's believed the landslide was triggered by heavy rain that fell at the time. Now, brush near the creek has been cut back giving a wider view of the collapse.

Rock and gravel continues to block the main walking trail in the greenbelt.

The detour caught Stephanie Herring by surprise. "Yeah for sure, I just moved here and wanted to take the boxer along the water now we are walking along North Lamar instead,” said Herring. 

The steep cliff which was formed by the landslide is along the property line of four homes.

Designing a repair plan has been slow because part of the landslide is on that private property.

The city has to negotiate to gain access just to collect data, according to Kelly. "So trying to coordinate the needs of the contractor to get in there and start mobilizing with 4 different property owners, all who have their own security concerns, safety concerns, has been a challenge,” said Kelly.

Construction at the site is not expected to start until after the first of the year.

The long term fix is still months away, there is a pressing concern.  It’s what the soggy weekend forecast could do to that slope. Sand bags on Gaston Ave near the homes on the cliff are part of a prevention plan. The idea is to divert water down the road and into storm drains away from the slope failure. During a big rain event, driveways will briefly be blocked to keep the water moving.

The makeshift levee system seems to be working, according to Kelly. "On the slide area itself, all of our observations suggest that slide is localized, and so we are primarily focused on the 4 residents immediately around there.” 

Residents are asked to keep a watch for anything unusual like expanding cracks in yards and roadways. If something like that is spotted, the city should immediately be notified.