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The Journal Gazette

Ferndale-area flood project gets underway

$421,982 outlay to solve sewer, ditch backups

– Work on a long-awaited flood project kicked off Tuesday in the Waynedale neighborhood of Ferndale.

Mayor Tom Henry joined neighbors for a groundbreaking ceremony for work that will protect the area against the most common floods.

The neighborhood along Lower Huntington Road has been beset for decades by flooding from the Fairfield Ditch. As the city of Fort Wayne has solved flooding problems elsewhere through levees, floodwalls and buying and tearing down homes, residents in Ferndale and along Bradbury Avenue nearby grew increasingly frustrated.

But unlike many neighborhoods vulnerable to flooding, Ferndale has two different issues: There is the Fairfield Ditch that can flood suddenly, but there are also the sewers in the area. The combined sanitary and storm sewers aren’t big enough to handle the flow during rainstorms, and the flow backs up into the street at the lowest point in the neighborhood, at Fernwood Avenue and Dalevue Drive. That’s also the first place to flood when Fairfield Ditch overflows.

City officials have been placing pumps in the area when there is heavy rain to drain the sewers into the ditch, but that works only until the ditch spills its banks.

The city worked with the Army Corps of Engineers after the Flood of ’03, but the federal agency has never proposed a solution or offered funding.

Last year, the city bought six houses in the neighborhood; they have now been demolished and returned to green space for flood storage. Tuesday’s groundbreaking marked the start of work on an earthen berm to hold back floodwater from the ditch and the construction of a larger-diameter, 48-inch stormwater pipe and inlets to handle the stormwater behind the berm.

“This project is going to have a positive impact as we continue our proactive efforts to protect neighborhoods and invest in our community,” Henry said. “I’m appreciative of how our Public Works and City Utilities divisions worked together to develop a solution that will enhance the quality of life for residents impacted by past flooding challenges. I also want to thank the residents in the Dalevue-Fernwood area for their commitment and patience throughout this process.”

Crosby Excavating Inc., from Fort Wayne, will construct the $421,982 project, which is expected to be completed in the fall.