by Clarissa A. French
Different clients have different motivations, said Richard Scott, of Scott Consulting Engineers PC. "For the public client, the motive is to meet the needs of the people," he said.
An award-winning example of meeting public needs is Scott Consulting's design for the Erie-Ferguson stormwater improvements in Springfield.
The design garnered an honorable mention from the Consulting Engineers Council of Missouri in its annual Engineering Excellence Awards.
Residents of a southside Springfield neighborhood that was developed in the '60s before any controls on construction in flood plains and sinkhole areas had long suffered at least minor flooding problems in the vicinity of the Erie sinkhole, located just northwest of the intersection of Walnut Lawn and Campbell, and the Ferguson sinkhole, a few blocks west of the Erie sink.
As more development occurred in adjacent areas, the flooding became more extreme, reaching a destructive peak during 1993.
People who lived in the neighborhood complained to the city. "The people had a need and came to the city. The city prioritized those needs. It identified $300 million in stormwater needs, and Erie-Ferguson was high on the priority list because of the flooding," Scott said.
When a bond issue to fund stormwater improvements was approved in 1995, Erie-Ferguson was among the five top-priority projects to be funded.
The city sent out letters seeking proposals from consulting engineers. "We submitted our qualifications, a letter about the approach we would use, and, based on that, they had us come in for a personal interview," Scott said.
Neil Fossnight, PE, was the project engineer for the Erie-Ferguson project, and he said there were numerous unique features, as well as special challenges.
The project necessitated a high-tech approach. In the study and preliminary design phase, "We used different methods to identify different storm events. We simulated storms on computer to come up with different alternatives." Fossnight said.
One of the major challenges was figuring out the hydraulics of the sinkhole system. "Water comes into Erie behind Wal-Mart and we had to see what would go through the underground channel in a 100-year flood and what wouldn't," Fossnight said.
He figured out that the Erie sinkhole could take up to 100 cubic feet of water per second. That calculation made all the subsequent decisions on the project possible.
Another challenge on the project was the public input involved, and particularly the fact that houses had to be removed from flood-prone areas to make way for improvements. "There were a lot of different opinions depending on where people's houses were located," Fossnight said.
The goal of the design was a stormwater system that would "function hydraulically, yet at the same time be aesthetically pleasing," Fossnight said. This was accomplished via a cooperative effort by Scott Consulting and the city's Department of Public Works, Scott added.
A meandering concrete channel bordered by a grassy overflow channel wends its way through the neighborhood, flanked by masonry-block retaining walls. In fair weather, the waterway is an attractive linear park for walking and recreation. During rainy weather, the channel safely contains high water, and the grassy overflow channel provides a natural filtration system for returning water to the groundwater system.
A permanent street addition provides neighborhood access to major thoroughfares, even when the water is high, without encouraging high-speed pass-through traffic.
Hartman Construction was the contractor on the project.
While the Erie-Ferguson improvements are essentially complete, there are still a few aesthetic refinements in the works.
"We're in the process of doing landscape architecture" for the Erie-Ferguson project, Fossnight said. Jane Doney, landscape architect for Scott Consulting, recently finished a landscaping plan, and Wickman Gardens Village will do the installation.
In addition to establishing preventive policies in regard to new development, the city is now more selective about the properties it annexes in regard to potential stormwater liabilities, Scott said.
For Greene County, it often doesn't have a choice. Property that is not part of the city is by default the county's problem.
"The county is trying to get some money for stormwater improvements. They'd like to see more tax dollars allotted for that. The county budgets some of its money for (stormwater improvements) but they're just scratching the surface," Scott said.
However, future development in Greene County shouldn't result in the kind of stormwater problems that have occurred in the past. Tim Smith, PE, is the county's stormwater engineer and he keeps a close eye on how land is developed, Scott said.
Meanwhile, the city's existing stormwater problems are far from being completely resolved. "While the city's done a lot, there's still a lot they need to do," Scott added.
Erie Street's flooding problem was out of hand before stormwater improvements were added.
Ferguson Avenue was hard-hit by the flood of 1993. The situation is now improved.
Homes subject to flooding were removed to make way for the Erie-Ferguson project.
An underground stormwater channel resurfaces at Parkhill Avenue and Rockwood Drive, emptying into the Ferguson sinkhole.
The Erie-Ferguson stormwater channel prevents flooding of nearby residences.[[In-content Ad]]
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