With water from yesterday's rain swelling Shantee Creek in West Toledo, city officials and contractors ceremonially dug in their shovels next to the creek to mark the start of a $3 million ditch improvement project.
The city has awarded a contract to E.S. Wagner Co. to improve Shantee Creek from Lewis to Detroit avenues. The work has been planned for several years, but was speeded up and its capacity increased after last summer's flooding, said Bob Williams, the city's public utilities director.
"We're here today to fulfill a promise made [last] summer of expediting this project," Mr. Williams said yesterday. "We're confident this is the best design possible to move water out of this neighborhood."
The project will create a parallel pipe to take storm water away from neighborhoods that were deluged by a series of floods between June 21 and July 12, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said at the groundbreaking in Bennett Park.
It also will replace and enlarge the culvert under Laskey Road that was blamed as a choke point, which caused the creek to overflow into homes along West Crawford Avenue, Custer Road, and other streets. And it will widen the ditch from Bennett Road to Detroit Avenue.
Two previous phases completed in 2002 improved the drainage system from Talmadge Road to Lewis.
Another improvement, to cost $1.17 million, added since the flooding, will widen the creek from Detroit Avenue to where it passes beneath Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.
The $3 million project is being paid for out of the city's storm water utility fund, made up of funds collected from storm water fees created five years ago, Mr. Williams said. Prior to that, he said, the city did not have a dedicated source of funds to improve ditches.
The storms, which officials said dumped a record amount of rainfall in a one-month period, also filled basements and swamped homes on slabs in the Beverly and Reynolds Corners areas as well as other scattered locations.
Mr. Finkbeiner said the water caused a lot of problems this year, but he said Toledo also should celebrate its access to safe, abundant water as an important local resource.
More than 4,000 Lucas County residents applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for aid after the floods.
The Greater Toledo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross opened 188 cases in Lucas County, providing $57,428 in assistance, according to Jodie Tienvieri, communications manager.
Last month, a class action lawsuit filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court accused the city, Lucas County, and CSX Transportation of negligence in failing to maintain Shantee Creek. The plaintiffs predicted that 77 homeowners would join the lawsuit.
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