By Connie Leinbach
Blackbeard’s Puddle may finally be gone after this weekend.
NC DOT crews yesterday began installing a culvert and drain pipe at the site of one of the largest puddles on the island at Old Pony and Back roads.
Crews began digging into the asphalt to get to the ground beneath onto which to lay a 40-foot pipe. That pipe will usher the water off the road and to a drain field along Old Pony Road, the dirt road beside Blackbeard’s Lodge.
After the pipe is laid down the crew will install drains to capture rain water, said Keith Gaskins, who, along with Barbara Burley, are the local NCDOT crew.
However, the crews hit a snag in the early afternoon.
Under the six inches of asphalt are the remains of the first concrete pavers laid down on village streets more than 50 years ago, Gaskins said, noting that there is six to eight inches of concrete that has to be cut through.
He called for a jack hammer, and that work is being done today, said Justin LeBlanc, chair of the Mosquito Control Board (MCB) overseeing the work.
“These drains will definitely help,” Gaskins said as he smoothed over the dirt from the digging. “Anywhere you can pipe it (the water) and get it to a mosquito ditch helps.”
As sand and grass has built up alongside the paved roads in recent decades, that build-up has prevented rain water from flowing off the asphalt at numerous areas. Mosquito ditches were dug years ago throughout the village to help drain water since Ocracoke does not have storm sewers.
While some of the ditches are off the main roads, a prominent one is along Sunset Drive near Trent.
The work has been two years in the making after the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association put a committee together to work on remediating the numerous puddles on the island after every rain.
In a June 2015 Ocracoke Observer story, LeBlanc, who also is the OCBA vice-president, said the MCB is installing the culverts across public and private property with property owners’ consent and NCDOT is installing the boxes and grates in the roadways.
“We’re glad the NCDOT is able to come down and drain this puddle,” LeBlanc said today, noting that it took a while to start this project since it’s the first one on the list.
“We hope the partnership the Mosquito Control Board has with NCDOT will help us drain all the major puddles in the village,” he said.
After Blackbeard’s Puddle is finished, the next one on the list is on Back Road and Fig Tree Lane. After that, the committee will evaluate the measures and the list of major puddles.
Anyone who has drainage issues may contact LeBlanc for the MCB to evaluate it.
Email LeBlanc at email@example.com.