For the past few weeks a section of the Kingstree Branch, better known as the Canal, has been undergoing repairs. The Corps of Engineers is widening a portion on Main Street near the railroad track. Funding is by way of federal dollars.
The Canal is approximately 6.6 miles in length and originates northwest of the town. The Canal is prone to flooding, as witnessed at its worst during the 2015 historic flood when the river crested above 22 feet; however, flooding has occurred as far back as Tropical Storm Hilda in October 1964 when the river crested above 16 feet.
Total project costs to clean out the entire Canal will cost approximately $1.5 million. Kingstree Town Manager Richard Treme is looking forward to the completion of the project. In the meantime, the town continues to lay out its own projects. Funds totaling $225,000 are set aside for cleaning out other sections of the Canal. “If we can alleviate that problem in the Canal then the drainage all around it will be affected,” said Treme. “We greatly appreciate the Corps doing that.” Treme said the county is helping as well. “We do not have the track hoe to clean it out,” said Treme. “Before the last storm came (county supervisor) Tiffany Wright offered to use their equipment. That made a big difference.”
In 2007, the town commissioned a record site and topographic survey of the Kingstree Branch at the request of the USACE. In 2009, Hybrid Engineering was engaged to perform a Hydrologic & Hydraulic Evaluation of the branch. The firm provided two alternatives: Lining the channel bottom and sides with an articulating concrete block system or lining the bottom and sides with cast-in-place concrete slabs. The firm also completed an engineering report that was submitted to the USDA-Rural Development in May 2010, along with an application for federal assistance.
In 2015, Kingstree Town Council adopted a grant resolution for a $1.2 million project to fix the canal. Work was to include cement fortifications to a stretch of the canal but the design was never approved. In 2018 the town hired Dennis Corporation to conduct a city-wide drainage study to address problems with street flooding. Treme said the study revealed one of the biggest issues is the canal but, he added, is certainly not the only one.