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Altoona prepares several new stormwater projects

The city Public Works Department has been working on a series of stormwater projects, some in response to flooding last summer that caused significant damage in the Valley View area and Fairview.

EADS group is working on a $100,000 analysis of the watershed that feeds the area between the boulevards in Valley View, which led to many complaints to city officials after flooding of Brush Run and water headed for Brush Run invaded residential and commercial first floors and basements.

EADS has completed a watershed survey and is now working on a computer model, Kissell said.

The model will account for obstructions in the flow of water along Brush Run and reveal areas where damming would occur when enough water is introduced upstream, Kissell said.

“A crazy analysis,” Kissell told City Council at a recent meeting. “Input rainfall and see how the area reacts.”

The model will predict results for weather events of varying intensity, such as 50- and 100-year storms, Kissell said.

It’s a six-month project, and EADS is about four months into it, he said.

“It’s quite a task,” he said.

The upstream end of the watershed includes areas of Greenwood, while its eastern side extends to the top of Brush Mountain and its western side rises to about First Avenue, Kissell said.

Ultimately, the work could lead to removal of the obstructions to promote freer flow and construction of “impoundments” to capture and release water slowly to the creek, Kissell said.

The work could also include reestablishment of some flood plain areas, along with stream restoration, Kissell said.

“What we don’t want to do is build a project with minimal benefit,” Kissell said. “That’s why we’re doing our homework.”

21st Avenue

Gwin Dobson & Foreman is conducting a drainage study of Calvert Hills, which includes 21st Avenue between 11th and 12th streets, where there is a dip that flooded June 10, destroying several cars and filling basements as high as the first floor joists.

Initial findings showed that the combined sewer mains that take water from that area to the Easterly Sewer Treatment Plant were adequate — although some smaller “collector” piping might need upgraded, Kissell said. The city will likely create bigger and redundant sewer inlets in the area to help ensure against clogging at or near street level, which can be caused by garbage bags and other debris carried by floodwaters, according to Kissell.

West Whittier

The city is preparing to advertise for bids for installation of 600 feet of storm sewer where there is none now on West Whittier Avenue between Coleridge and Wordsworth avenues, Kissell said.

It’s a low-lying area with a high water table where standing water appears after it rains hard, he said.

The problem has generated complaints.

It could cost about $170,000.

It was in “mothballs and is now out of mothballs,” Kissell told council.

The city hopes to complete the project by fall.

Toytown Heights

The city hopes to construct a drainage project to take water from the area of Walnut and Oak avenues around 32nd Street — Toytown Heights — safely downhill, Kissell said.

The project would add piping where there is currently none along four blocks, he said.

It would cost about $275,000, he estimated.

Mansion Park area

Engineers are about 70 percent finished with planning for a stormwater project along Baker and Mansion boulevards, Kissell said.

The city hopes to award bids and start construction this year, Kissell said.

Much of the flooding comes from Mill Run on the other side of Union Avenue.

The area is flat, which inhibits drainage, officials said previously.

A master plan shared by city officials last May called for creation of buried 6-foot wide rock-filled channels covered with greenery along both sides of the medians on both of those boulevards, plus curbs built along the edges of the streets, which would be milled to direct water toward the channels.

Other projects

The city plans to reestablish a drainage ditch along Maple Street that has been migrating toward a house, Kissell said.

That contract project is expected to cost about $50,000.

Workers recently finished slip-lining of deteriorated metal piping along 17th Street on both sides of First Avenue — on the downtown side to Sixth Avenue and on the Pleasant Valley side to Pleasant Valley Boulevard, Kissell said.

The cost was $250,000.

The piping was installed a few decades ago, when the current 17th Street alignment was created.

The pipes had corroded and the resulting leaks were creating sinkholes near the roadway — for example in the grass strip between the sidewalk and street, according to Kissell.

Pedestrians and workers cutting the grass encountered those sinkholes, he said.

The city will hold public meetings before finalizing the plans for some of the projects, Kissell said.

“We’re trying to get them through the queue as fast as we can,” he said. “(But) we don’t want to rush these things out without them passing the litmus test.”

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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