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When the St. Marys River rises, backpressure forces water out the storm drains and into the street.

Calhoun-Tillman flood-control project OK’d

The intersection of Calhoun and Tillman on the city’s southern edge – one of the first places to flood – will be getting some protection.

Board of Public Works members on Wednesday opened bids for a project to improve drainage in the area and put in a low berm to keep water off the street. The apparent low bidder was Ironclad Excavating, at $245,663, below the engineer’s estimate of $265,250.

Anne Marie Smrchek, a city engineer, said storm drains in the area currently have three separate outfalls to the river. When the St. Marys River rises, backpressure forces water out the storm drains and into the street, so crews have to place temporary pumps at each outfall to drain the storm sewers.

The project, set to get under way in July and be completed by fall, will consolidate those drains into one outfall, meaning only one pump will be required during high water, and it can be placed on an existing driveway between Tillman and the river so it doesn’t block traffic.

The river is just a few feet away from the street and when it comes out of its banks it spills into the roadway, forcing crews to either place a temporary clay levee there or close the street. So crews will build a small earthen berm in the area to hold back the water. Smrchek said it will only be 1 or 2feet tall, and in places where there is not room for a berm it will be a low wall.

The tiny levee will not hold back a large flood, but will prevent some of the nuisance flooding that affects the area, she said.

More importantly, the project will free up pumps and crews to work where they are more urgently needed.

“We can prepare for other areas, and we’ll have more pumps available elsewhere,” Smrchek said. “It gives us better odds in the flood fight.”

In other business, board members voted to approve moving forward with a huge concrete street repair project.

The work will repair streets, curb ramps and sidewalks in the Crestwood Colony, North Sherwood Terrace, Silver Maples and Summerfield neighborhoods. The project is so large it will be bid on June 4 but is not expected to be completed until May 2015.

dstockman@jg.net

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