City Pledges $ 5.1 Million to Mitigate Hartley Avenue Flooding | New

The Town of Beckley has pledged $ 5.1 million to improve sewers and storm water along Hartley Avenue and downstream from Pinecrest Industrial Park. When completed in 2025, the project is expected to alleviate a 40-year-old flooding problem in neighborhoods around Hartley.

The project proposal is to improve the stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure along Hartley Avenue and downstream to Pinecrest. The project is expected to be completed by 2025, said Jeremiah Johnson, director of the Beckley Sanitary Board (BSB).

The objectives of the project are to eliminate sewer backups and overflowing manholes, to reduce the amount of rainwater entering sanitary sewers and to reduce the frequency and severity of neighborhood floods and their impacts on homes. .

The Raleigh County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a petition with city officials in August, asking for help on behalf of homeowners.

NAACP President Barbara Charles announced on Wednesday that her group received a copy of the proposed plan from city officials on Tuesday.

“After 40 years of … homes affected almost every year, I think that’s a response that’s really part of the infrastructure we’ve been talking about for so long, but it’s just the start,” said Charles. “There is more that needs to happen in our communities and, in particular, in the community of East Beckley.

“We don’t want the city to be demarcated. We want to grow and beautify, like any other part of our city, and help make it what it should be,” Charles said.

“This is the first of many things we can come together on.”

Charles thanked Janine Bullock, who represents Ward 5 on Beckley’s Common Council, for her role in securing help for the project.

In a fact sheet prepared by Johnson, he reported that the lowlands around Hartley Avenue are receiving runoff from a few hundred developed acres, which has resulted in “harmful flooding, sewer backups and drains. ‘other drainage problems’.

He added that the Hartley Avenue neighborhood follows a common national model whereby the most disadvantaged residents of a community are more vulnerable to environmental hazards and flood risk. Johnson reported that the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Justice Scouting and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN) characterizes the Hartley Avenue area as at least 55% low-income, 27% people of color and 19% over 64 years old. .

“For these and other reasons, the City of Beckley Health Board has determined that a major stormwater and sanitary sewer improvement project is needed,” Johnson said.

The project is expected to cross 29 properties and consist of replacing approximately 6,400 feet of sanitary sewer line, 2,000 feet of stream restoration, 2,600 feet of open channel construction and 700 feet of storm sewer installation.

“It is important to note that infrastructure projects will never eliminate the risk of flooding for property owners in flood prone areas,” Johnson wrote. “For this reason, BSB always recommends owners of flood-prone property to participate in flood insurance programs.

“The problems faced by residents of the Hartley neighborhood are complex,” he added. “Engineers consider them the most complicated to solve in town.”

In the past, some federal agencies have refused funding for the project when requested by BSB, Johnson reported.

Johnson said BSB has taken action in the past and will continue to take action to address flooding issues. He said the city plans to submit a preliminary engineering report for funding review to WV’s Infrastructure and Employment Development Council (IJDC) by December 2021, to complete the design of by December 2022 and complete the right-of-way negotiations by July 2023..

He said the city plans to start construction in fall 2023 and be completed by mid-2025.

Some property can be claimed under a right of way conviction.

Johnson said bids on the project must be awarded in accordance with the funding body’s requirements.

“At this point, we don’t know exactly where the funding would come from, but it is common in government funding for entrepreneurs to attempt to procure the services of disadvantaged businesses,” he said. “And there are all kinds of definitions of what that means.

“We will try to deliver it in the most cost effective way possible,” he added.

Johnson said lowering the costs of the projects means better rates for those who live in the affected neighborhood.

The Thrasher Group is the engineering firm for the Hartley Avenue project.

Thaddeus Breckenridge, 23, a political science graduate from Davis and Elkins College, added that he would like black, preferably local, contractors to receive 20% of contractors’ bids on the next sewer project.

Beckley has the largest black population in West Virginia in the state, with nearly a quarter of local residents identifying as Black.

“We have a critical opportunity to secure contracts for black contractors,” said Breckenridge. “If there are no black businesses or entrepreneurs ready, on their terms and conditions, I would like to see a mentor or shepherd program.

“The next level is to have people at Beckley who build a beautiful Beckley.”

Breckenridge worked with a group of veterans to host a 3-on-3 “Field Basketball Tournament” at the Simpkins Avenue Basketball Court next to Family Dollar on October 16 at 5:00 p.m. At 20 o ‘clock. The objective is to raise awareness of the problems of hydraulic infrastructure in black neighborhoods and the federal #BuildBackBetter plan.

The group, Common Defense, is made up of ex-combatants who are politically active.

Johnson and Breckenridge both pointed out that infrastructure is currently the focus of the federal government’s attention.

The US House of Representatives is expected to vote today on a $ 1 trillion bill that aims to fund infrastructure projects across the country.

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