The Ottumwa Courier

October 24, 2013

First phase of flood project nearing start

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA—After a very long, drawn-out process to secure proper funds, the first phase of the 2010 Flood Protection Mitigation Project is finally within earshot of getting underway.

City officials started a process to obtain funds for the project in 2005 and finally secured a grant totaling $16,222,100 from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grant gets broken down to 75 percent from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, 10 percent from the state and the remaining 15 percent from a local match through a Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) grant.

The first phase of the project will total $5 million, and the funds from the CDBG grant will be released on Nov. 20, when they can finish an environmental release. Once there is FEMA concurrence on the project, the city can enter into a contract with a contractor to get the exact plans solidified, and then preparation work can begin.

“It’s a matter of finishing the paperwork to get started,” said Larry Seals, director of Public Works, at a special meeting of City Council on Monday.

The first phase of the project consists of installing a pipe under a portion of Gateway Drive to McLean Street. They will then go north on McLean to Main Street, then west on Main until McPherson Avenue.

“It is the start of the backbone that will take the storm water all the way to the river,” Seals said.

There is also a water main installation contract that will be included with this phase, but it is not covered with the FEMA or CDBG grants. In order to put the 96-inch piping in for the Flood Mitigation Project, a water main that sits under Main Street will have to be replaced because it is in the way of the construction. Tonight at a special meeting of City Council, council members will vote on whether or not to approve the replacement of the water main.

According to Seals, there is a very tight time schedule for the project. FEMA told Public Works it wants the entire project completed by December of next year, that way the roads can be totally cleared by March 2016.

It was Public Works’ idea to have three or four months of winter work done late this year and early next year, which would get boring work underneath the roads completed on schedule. Of course, as with everything this time of year, the weather will be the deciding factor in getting that work done on time.

The intention, Seals said, is to eventually have multiple phases going at one time. Officials will but a bid on the next two phases in January, with a fourth phase coming later. After the bid is accepted and the plans are solidified, the next two phases will be started while the first phase is finishing up, probably sometime in late March.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh