Flood scare accelerates Ogden storm drain work

Friday , August 29, 2014 - 12:00 AM

OGDEN — Fixing the storm drains that cause flooding near Harrison Boulevard can’t be put off any longer, the city says, and the project to do it is also more extensive than first thought.

The Ogden City Council added $700,000 to the budget for a project that will improve the existing storm drain system along Jackson and Van Buren avenues. With storm drain pipes that are too small to handle high-capacity water incidents like heavy rainstorms, the area is notorious for flooding.

“The pipes just aren’t big enough to hold the water,” said City Engineer Justin Anderson. “We’re seeing flooding when we have minor storms, but then when we have bigger storms, it really becomes a problem.”

Anderson said the heavy rainstorm that occurred in Ogden about three weeks ago was painfully close to causing some serious damage in the area.

”Another 10 minutes or so, and we would have had homes flooding,“ he said. ”This has been a problem for years, and we need to get it taken care of as soon as possible.“

Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said the recent storm made city streets look like swimming pools.

”There was everything but a lifeguard,“ he said.

The city’s project has already begun and Anderson said the new money added to the project’s budget is necessary because the initial scope of the work has increased after several issues with the system were discovered during the design of the project.

The city says the design phase revealed that the condition of the pipe was much worse than anticipated, water seals were failing beyond repair, and resolving utility issues was more difficult and costly than initially anticipated.

The original budget for the project was $5.87 million, but the $700,000 adjustment pushes it beyond $6.5 million.

Although when the system floods, it affects Harrison Boulevard, most of the work associated will take place just west of Harrison. The project will run along Jackson Avenue from the Ogden River to 22nd Street, then on Van Buren Avenue between 22nd Street and 27th Street. There will be some work on Harrison, Anderson said, mostly at the intersections of 23rd Street and 25th Street.

Anderson said most of the work will be finished by Thanksgiving. The storm drain pipes underneath Harrison Boulevard also need to be replaced, but that work will be completed by the Utah Department of Transportation in the spring of 2015 during a pavement project on the road. Anderson said the scope of that project is much smaller than the city project.

During construction, residents in the area will experience some shut-offs to their water and sewer lines, but they will be short intervals of 24 hours or less.

Because heavy construction equipment is involved, travel on Jackson and Van Buren will also be affected. Utah Transit Authority and school bus routes will have to be altered during the project.

Anderson and Johnson say that once the work is complete, flooding should only be an issue in the rarest of storms.

”Sometimes a storm will come that only happens once every 100 years and there is no way to handle the water, no matter what system you have,“ Johnson said.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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