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A water pump on the corner of Fernwood Avenue and Dalevue Drive in 2011.

Ferndale flooding fixes get OK

FORT WAYNE – Stormwater Management Board members on Wednesday voted to move forward with work to prevent flooding in the Ferndale neighborhood.

The neighborhood along Lower Huntington Road in Waynedale has been beset for years by flooding from the Fairfield Ditch. As the City of Fort Wayne has solved flooding problems elsewhere through levees, floodwalls, and buying and tearing down homes, residents in Ferndale and along Bradbury Avenue nearby have grown increasingly frustrated.

But unlike many neighborhoods vulnerable to flooding, Ferndale has two different issues: There is the Fairfield Ditch that can flood suddenly, but there are also the sewers in the area. The combined sanitary and storm sewers aren’t big enough to handle the flow during a rainstorm, and the flow backs up into the street at the lowest point in the neighborhood, at Fernwood Avenue and Dalevue Drive. That’s also the first place to flood when Fairfield Ditch overflows.

City officials now place pumps in the area when there is heavy rain to drain the sewers into the ditch, but that works only until the ditch spills its banks.

Earlier this year, the city bought six houses in the neighborhood. Wednesday, the Stormwater Board moved ahead with a project to protect the homes that remain.

Anne Marie Smrchek, a city engineer, has said the project will include two phases. The first will be a new stormwater pipe from the Fernwood and Dalevue intersection to the ditch: It will be much bigger than the current pipe and will include more inlets so it can drain the area better. It will also include a pump system to suck water out of the pipe and into the ditch. The second phase, officials said, calls for a small berm behind the houses to protect them from ditch flooding.

The project also includes stormwater drainage improvements in the area around Bradbury Avenue and Prairie Grove Drive.

“I don’t know who’s more excited about this project,” Smrchek said, “Public Works, City Utilities or the neighborhood.”

Smrchek said the project will be bid in January or February and will be complete by late spring or early summer.

Director of Public Works Bob Kennedy said he’s very glad the project is moving forward.

Earlier, Board of Public Works members closed out the project at the Three Rivers Filtration Plant that added an ultraviolet disinfection system to kill organisms in the city’s drinking water. Andrew Schipper, of the city’s Planning and Design Services department, said the $19.2 million project came in 4 percent under budget, saving the city $667,621.

Matt Wirtz, deputy director of engineering for City Utilities, said the city spent more on engineering fees at the front of the project to create a design-build team of several firms all working together on the entire project. That investment saved time and ultimately a lot money, Wirtz said, and the process is now being used for the $35 million improvement project at the sewage treatment plant.