New options considered for evaluating status of embankment at Morse Boulevard Bridge

Heavy duty pumps were being installed last year at Lake Sumter near the Waterfront Inn.

As stubborn water levels at Lake Sumter show little willingness to come down, officials are considering new options for evaluating the status of the embankment at the Morse Boulevard Bridge.

The water level has been high since 2017’s Hurricane Irma dumped heavy rain on The Villages, flooding tunnels and golf courses. In 2018, the Project Wide Advisory Committee spent $120,000 on heavy-duty, custom-built pumps in an effort to bring down the water level, but Mother Nature had another plan.

A crew was collecting soil borings in 2016 at the embankment of the Morse Bridge.

In 2016, PWAC voted to spend $1.7 million on a rock revetment project to shore up the embankment. That project remains on hold.

The possible next steps were discussed Friday by Community Development District 5 and 6 supervisors.

Two methods of gathering more information about the status of the embankment are being considered:

• Divers using video equipment could go under water and capture information.

• Laser leveling could reveal if there has been additional degradation at the embankment.

Village of Sunset Pointe resident Rick Sutherland asked CDD 5 supervisors why residents would be funding potential work at the embankment. He wondered why Sumter County would not be paying for the work.

A golf cart in 2018 navigates a flooded tunnel near the Morse Boulevard Bridge.

“I really don’t understand that. It’s a county road,” Sutherland said.

As they frequently find themselves doing, supervisors explained that the issue isn’t with the bridge or the road, but rather with the embankment on which they rest. That embankment belongs to CDD 5.

The CDD 5 board members said they feel fortunate to be a part of PWAC, which includes representation from CDDs 5 through 11. If CDD 5 was not part of PWAC, it could be on the hook for the entire project, rather than sharing it with the other CDDs.

“The good thing is that under Project Wide, it gets spread out over the districts,” said CDD 5 Chairman Gary Kadow.