July 29, 2014

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Rate hike means Lorain can dredge to help flood-prone Martin’s Run area in 2014

LORAIN — Residents who live near flood-prone Martin’s Run Creek area will still have to worry when it rains heavily, but help is on the way.

Plans to dredge the creek in mid-2014 are going ahead after last week’s approval of a $2 per month sewer rate increase by City Council. The increase, which will take effect in January, will raise $528,000 annually and help pay for the dredging. A 2006 study estimated the project cost at about $1.9 million.

First, a $500,000 design study must be completed, easements must be obtained from property owners and permits must be obtained from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to City Engineer Dale Vandersommen. The approximately 3.5-mile project will run from West 35th Street to Oberlin Avenue. The design phase is being done by CT Consultants, an Ohio-based municipal engineering company.

Vandersommen said about 3 feet of sediment and silt has built up in the 12-foot by 6-foot culvert since it was constructed in 1994 and 1995. That has led to periodic flooding in the creek, which runs south of Tower Boulevard along state Route 2 and drains into Lake Erie.

Water filled the street and was curb-high on West 39th Street near the Ashland Avenue intersection during superstorm Sandy in October.

Vandersommen said the city officials had wanted to make the culvert deeper and wider when it was built but lacked money.

“What really needs to happen to make it function the way it was intended to is to dredge it out and deepen it,” he said. “Travel along these roads is obviously impaired for everyone.”

Vandersommen said municipal officials are aware flood prevention must become a greater priority.

“There’s some concern,” he said. “We seem to be experiencing more of these storms (like superstorm Sandy).”

Councilman Bret Schuster, D-4th Ward, whose ward includes Martin’s Run, said constituents are anxious to see mitigation. Schuster praised Mayor Chase Ritenauer and his administration for going ahead with the project and other mitigation the rate increase will help pay for.

“These problems have been neglected for years and years,” Schuster said.

Lorain’s Law Department didn’t provide statistics last week on recent flooding claims by residents, but last year Law Director Pat Riley said they were down since he took office in 2009. Vandersommen, a city employee since 1995 and city engineer since last year, said some residents in the Martin’s Run neighborhood may have become resigned to flooding.

“People have been living with the problem a long time,” he said.

But not resident Lou Buga who moved into his home at 1426 W. 39th St. — about half a block from the culvert — at the beginning of the month. Four sandbags were at the front door of Buga’s home Wednesday, which he said were left by the previous homeowner.

Buga said he was aware of flooding problems in the neighborhood when he moved in and is happy about the project.

“If it’s not fixed it could cause a lot of damage with basements flooding,” he said. “That could create a lot of damage for a lot of people.”

Flood prevention

In addition to work at the Martin’s Run watershed, a series of flood prevention measures are being taken around Lorain:

  • A $50,000 study will be done at the Clinton Avenue watershed and a $100,000 study at Orchard Hill watershed.
  • Two street sweepers are being purchased for $410,000.
  • A $300,000 leaf vacuum is being purchased.
  • Curb and gutter replacements and reconfigurations are being done around Lorain, including $300,000 in improvements on Homewood Drive.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.