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Huntington infrastructure projects aimed to alleviate flooding

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 6:59 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The Huntington Sanitary Board is making progress on three infrastructure improvement projects that will greatly reduce street flooding in the city’s Highlawn and downtown areas.

In December 2019, the Huntington Water Quality Board, which is the umbrella agency for the Huntington Sanitary Board and Huntington Stormwater Utility, announced it would begin construction this summer on three separate projects totaling about $4,577,012. Two of the projects will greatly reduce street flooding along 3rd and 5th avenues in Highlawn, while the third project is expected to eliminate flooding in the 8th and 10th Street underpasses.

The largest of the three projects – at a cost of $2,965,161 – involves cleaning out a large interceptor line that begins in Highlawn and carries about 80 percent of the city’s wastewater to the Water Quality Board’s treatment plant in Westmoreland. The line was built in 1958 and has never been cleaned out, according to Brian Bracey, executive director of the Water Quality Board. That has resulted in the interceptor line losing a significant amount of its waste water capacity to sand, sediment and debris, which can result in street flooding.

Cleaning the interceptor line is about 10 percent complete, and crews have already removed approximately 800,000 pounds, or 400 tons of debris, Bracey said.

Another contributor of street flooding in Highlawn is when river water infiltrates the interceptor line, further reducing the line’s capacity to carry wastewater. To alleviate this issue, the Sanitary Board recently completed a $150,655 project to install a backflow preventer on outfall lines next to a pump station on 5th Avenue in Guyandotte.

“Us literally stopping the Guyandotte River from coming back into us is going to prevent having more debris buildup behind the debris that’s still down the line,” Bracey said.

In the downtown area, the Sanitary Board is taking major steps to reduce underpass flooding. The Sanitary Board is about halfway done on a $1,461,192 project to install pumps and drainage lines at the 8th Street and 10th Street underpasses that will prevent water from pooling in those underpasses during heavy rains.

Funding for these projects is the result of a three-step sewer rate increase that was approved by the Water Quality Board and Huntington City Council in 2017.

In addition to these projects, the Huntington Stormwater Utility was awarded a $5,164,240 grant earlier this month from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to stabilize and improve Huntington’s floodwall infrastructure. The Stormwater Utility will match 20 percent of the grant award, providing $1,291,060 of the funding necessary for this $6,455,300 project.

Specific infrastructure work planned will include stabilizing the 11th Street floodwall pump station and adjacent monoliths, replacing a sewage line that originates inside the 11th Street pump station, and engineering a future project which could remove sewage line infrastructure entirely from the 11th Street and 9th Street pump stations to ensure the long-term resiliency of the system.

The Stormwater Utility also received a $250,000 surface transportation block grant for engineering services to create a construction plan for drainage improvements on Arlington Boulevard. Drainage has already been improved at the upper end of Arlington Boulevard. The Stormwater Utility and KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission are now in negotiations with engineers on the larger construction plan.

The Water Quality Board also is coordinating efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and West Virginia Department of Transportation to address areas outside the city and beyond the responsibility of the Water Quality Board to clear blockages that continue to cause flooding after rain events along Arlington Boulevard.

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