Eric Dove, water resources engineer, and Chris Dunnaway, professional engineer, both with Olsson and Associates, presented their study on how to remedy flooding for Monett to the Monett City Council and several department heads during a special meeting on Wednesday.
Dove explained how Olsson had obtained the computer model used by the National Resources Conservation Service in the last major flood study. Olsson then added buildings and adjusted the formula to where it explained the Sept. 19, 2009, flood.
Olsson used actual measurements taken during the storm to form a hydraulic model. Changes in the obstructions were then measured to determine how flooding could be reduced. Dove said the railroad bridge under which Kelly Creek runs raises flooding by five feet. Replacing the bridge would cost "millions."
Modifications to the bridge and to the channel leading up to the bridge could offer significant improvements with less expense. The Ollson plan offered an overall strategy with several options. Central to the plan is modifying the west end of Kelly Creek.
Dove proposed leaving the existing creek channel that runs between Third and Seventh streets in place. He said storm water sewers from north of Broadway drain into the channel and will still be needed. He called for a new bypass channel that will run from Thirteenth to Second Street. The channel would be located between the railroad tracks and the south edge of Front Street.
Dove proposed taking out the section of Front Street between Third and Fourth streets where Kelly Creek runs under the road to allow the stream to dump directly into the new channel. Then he called for turning the new channel onto Front Street and angling the path of water toward the railroad bridge. The plan recommends buying out several properties on the north side of Front Street.
East of Seventh Street, the Olsson plan calls for replacing the Kelly Creek channel with the new larger bypass. A six-foot-high fence would secure the drainage channel from public access.
The biggest variable in the plan was how wide to make the new bypass channel. Dove calculated the cost and benefits for a 50-foot, 70-foot and 85-foot wide channel.
Combining improvements to the railroad bridge and adding the bypass channel would drop the height of flood water in a 100-year storm by 3.7 feet at Sixth Street, five feet at Fifth Street and four feet at Fourth Street.
Cost for the plan including a 70-foot channel is an estimated $6.3 million. Dove said there were several cost-sharing possibilities, including grants and loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program, Community Development Block Grants, a 20 percent match for work on the railroad bridges from Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad, a 40 percent match from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and a 50 percent match from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Despite the largest potential for getting money back, the Corps of Engineers also provided the slowest process. Dove said the Corps works on a 15-year timetable. The City of Springfield has been working on a feasibility study with the Corps since 2002 without an agreement reached. FEMA had a three-year review process for a pre-disaster mitigation grant.
Cooperation from BNSF would be crucial, Dove said.
There are two types of railroad right of way: the most crucial involving the through track, and historic land along the side of the yard where the train station and other buildings were once located. Dove was optimistic that the historic right-of-way, no longer used for railroad purposes, could be obtained for a project that had benefits for the railroad.
Fire department crews presently use Front Street as an unobstructed thoroughfare for getting from their station on Fifth Street to Central Avenue on their way south. Fire Chief Tom Jones voiced concern that future runs if Front Street were blocked. Even with continuous traffic lights on Broadway, Jones said fire trucks can have difficulty getting through when cars have nowhere else to go.
"The report shows that this is a realistic plan," said City Administrator Dennis Pyle. "With some modification to the railroad bridge and a new channel, those two improvements could make a significant change in flooding on Broadway."
Pyle and the whole Monett council met in Springfield at Olsson's offices with railroad officials on June 27 to discuss how the plan might impact railroad operations. The next step would be an on-site meeting with railroad representatives to look at the two railroad bridges that create the most obstruction. Dove said showing how flood control could reduce railroad maintenance would aid Monett's case.
The plan would also need approval from FEMA. Dove said FEMA would want to review plans that were 50 percent complete before the project could seriously move forward. In the end, FEMA flood plain maps could drop the height of the 100-year flood plain by three feet, positively impacting property owners and the development of business downtown.
Mayor Jim Orr said public support would be crucial for the city council to move forward with the plan.