Officials eye solutions for flood-prone Flossmoor street

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Officials eye solutions for flood-prone Flossmoor street

July 29, 2020 - 21:17
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Flossmoor officials are looking for ways to solve flooding problems along Berry Lane, a low-lying street in the Heather Hill neighborhood.

The village this month announced several steps that are being taken to control flooding around town, including a drainage study of the Flossmoor Road viaduct and upstream areas, which includes Berry Lane. 

The Flossmoor viaduct is flooded after heavy rains in late May. Flossmoor is setting out on a plan to solve flooding at the viaduct and adjacent neighborhoods. (Chronicle file photo)

The Flossmoor viaduct is flooded after heavy rains in late May. Flossmoor is setting out on a plan to solve flooding at the viaduct and adjacent neighborhoods. (Chronicle file photo)

The $40,000 study, approved June 15 by the village board, is being conducted by Baster & Woodman Consulting Engineers. The study will first focus on the Berry Lane area because of severe flooding that is occurring there more frequently, said John Brunke, Flossmoor’s public works director.

“This study will identify the causes of the flooding and what the options are for mitigating the flooding,” Brunke told the H-F Chronicle.

Some options for Berry Lane have already been discussed, such as providing sandbags to residents and whether it would be possible to pump water from yards after heavy storms. The Baxter & Woodman study should give a clearer picture and what needs to be done, Brunke said.

This summer, the village has a contractor completing storm sewer cleaning and televising in the Berry Lane area to ensure the existing storm sewer is operating at its peak efficiency. This work will also help identify any structural issues that may exist in the storm sewers that could affect flow.

Street and yard flooding along Berry have been common for years. 

After a devastating rainfall last September 27 flooded downtown Flossmoor and other parts of town, Berry residents complained to the village board that their street was hit particularly hard. 

Since then, some residents have continued to urge the village to take action. Berry Lane flooding has been a topic of discussion at the last two Flossmoor village board meetings.

In recent years, rainstorms have gotten more intense throughout the Chicago area — definitions for 100-year rainfalls were recently modified in response to the more severe downpours. For Berry Lane, with a lower elevation than other Heather Hill streets to the west, that’s not good news. 

Brunke said Berry Lane is a low area with no good path for stormwater runoff to go before water reaches a flooding height. At least one Berry Lane residence gets water inside the house from overland flow.

“The other issue is that the storm sewer on Berry Lane appears to be undersized and cannot carry the flow from the larger and more frequent rainfall events we are experiencing,” Brunke said.

The village is considering whether a pump along Berry would prevent flooding in the area. 

“We are still investigating this pumping option,” Brunke said. “It would involve us staging a large pump at Berry Lane and pumping the storm water downstream to the east during storm events. The idea is to help get the water out of the low area before it elevates and floods any homes out.”

However, public works crews must be certain that such pumping would not cause more flooding to the east before turning to such an option.

Brunke was asked if the village needs to consider water storage areas, such as detention ponds, to prevent flooding in areas like Heather Hill.

“Yes, there is a need for more stormwater storage in this area and other areas that experience flooding in the village” he said.  “The engineers are looking at storage as an option for the Berry Lane area and I think that will have to be considered in addition to a storm sewer improvement.”

Older neighborhoods in Flossmoor, like Heather Hill, were not constructed with stormwater storage facilities, like detention ponds, Brunke said. Such storage facilities “are an important tool in controlling stormwater runoff and providing a place for stormwater to be stored until storms end and the water can be released at a slow rate to not impact downstream areas,” he said.

Projects that target flooding

In a July 20 email to residents Flossmoor officials announced several steps that are being taken to curb flooding in neighborhoods across the village. 

“The village knows flooding is a real worry for many residents in our community, and the village has spent millions of dollars over the past 20 years to improve stormwater management,” the email notice said. ”We also know that our work is not done and, with the increased frequency and intensity of rain events in recent years, the needs have increased and become more urgent.”

Last year, Flossmoor worked with Baxter & Woodman to investigate the expansion of a 2005 study that only included the Flossmoor Road viaduct to include areas west of the viaduct. The expanded project area now includes downtown Flossmoor, Berry Lane and Oakmont Avenue in Heather Hill, as well as the Douglas Avenue drainage improvement areas. Areas downstream east of the viaduct will also see improvements from this project. 

This February, the village submitted a grant application to the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for the expanded Flossmoor Road Viaduct Improvement, with an estimated cost of between $5.7 million and $6.5 million.

Village staff then submitted a request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 219 Grant Program for funding assistance toward the project, which has a grant amount of $1 million to $2 million.

On June 26, Baxter & Woodman submitted a grant application to the DCEO REBUILD Illinois Public Infrastructure grant program for funding assistance in the amount of $5.7 million to $6.5 million for the project.

Elsewhere in Flossmoor

Over the past year, Baxter & Woodman has also completed drainage studies of the Hagen Lane and Douglas Avenue drainage issues, the email notice states. These areas are rear yard areas that flood during significant storm events and cause structural damage to homes and garages when flooding occurs. 

The Hagen Lane project also includes improvements that will mitigate flooding in the 1000 block of Evans Road. The studies recommended storm sewer improvements to mitigate flooding at a total cost of $904,000. 

In February, Baxter & Woodman submitted an application to the MWRD Stormwater Partnership Program to request funding in the amount of $754,000, with a local match of $150,000 from the Village.

The Richwood Terrace subdivision off of Holbrook Road continues to experience severe flooding throughout the subdivision, especially on the east side in rear yard areas during heavy storm events. 

Staff suspect  this flooding is due to an undersized culvert under Holbrook Road. In May, staff requested that contracted engineers complete a small drainage study of the issue.

During heavier rainfall events, Latimer Lane floods between Marston Lane and Cummings Lane. When this area floods, water reaches the house located at 807 Latimer Lane. 

“This seems to be the result of a storm sewer capacity issue. In order to address this, additional analysis will be completed to determine the necessary improvement to mitigate the flooding,” the email states.

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