HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Huntsville is getting millions of dollars to make some big improvements in a flood zone area.
The city has been awarded a massive federal grant.
FEMA is giving the city a total of $16 million dollars for drainage improvements to reduce the risk of flooding near Five Points, along Dallas Branch and Pinhook Creek, adjacent to the interstate.
It will help widen existing channels along Dallas Branch and make enhancements to existing culverts and bridges.
A new detention pond will be created near Dallas Avenue to hold storm water.
The work will continue down Pinhook Creek, ending at Holmes Avenue.
Kathy Martin, Huntsville's Director of City Engineering, says the goal is to reduce damages from flooding.
"What we'll be doing with this project is replacing or expanding about five different bridges along the designated route. The area that is between Dallas Branch and the interstate will now consist of a large detention pond. So approximately 200,000 cubic yards of material will be excavated to detain some of the storm water and it will continue on with some channel widening and improvements all the way down to Pinhook Creek which will be near Holmes Avenue," she revealed.
A lot of work went into landing the project. The city has been working with FEMA for about ten years.
"We've had a lot of passionate people in the city who've pursued this grant for many, many years," Martin stated.
Construction will be done in three phases and is expected to start next year, based on funding and right of way acquisition.
With the way the grant is structured, the city will have to do an agreement with the state and FEMA in order to get funding in place.
It will allow the city to finish design plans, which are about 90% complete.
Once those plans are finished, the city will start with acquiring approximately 100 parcels in order to construct the project.
Development in that area has caused overland flow to occur to where channels were not very well defined, Martin explained.
FEMA will provide $5.2 million in three yearly installments so the entire grant is $16 million.
"What this grant allows us to do is define a channel and create a spot to store the storm water in order to reduce the flooding potential for approximately 600 properties within that area. In essence, we're shrinking the flood zone based on a 100 year storm," Martin said.
The grant is funded through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides funds to state agencies and local governments. HMGP projects reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from the effects of natural hazards by breaking the repetitive cycle of destruction and reconstruction.
The city hopes it will have a positive impact for residents in that part of the city, who say flood insurance costs them quite a bit extra each year.
"We're not removing them from the flood zone, but the potential of flooding is being reduced. After the project is complete, we'll survey the improvements and we'll go back to FEMA with hopefully some revised mapping that will reduce the potential of flooding on approximately 600 homes to where they'll get a decrease in flood insurance and some may even get removed completely," Martin added.
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