Austin Flood Control Moves Forward

Posted at: 09/19/2013 6:32 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- If you need evidence of Austin's long history with flooding, just look for the blue signs. They mark the high-water level reached during Austin’s worst flooding ever, in 2004. But this week the city is taking steps that could ensure that the signs never have to be raised.
“In general we're looking at taking the water that is coming underneath the I-90 bridge and we're carrying that same volume of water right down through Austin, without letting it spread out," Austin city engineer Steven Lang explained.
On Friday, the city of Austin will open bids for what it calls Phase 3 of the city's comprehensive flood mitigation plan.
"A flood wall that is about knee height, and then we'll have pillars along there to install again stop logs to create an additional height of protection,” Steven Lang explained.
The city engineer's office has estimated the cost of phase three at between $7 and $8 million dollars.
"It'll also involve raising Main Street approximately two feet," Steven Lang explained.
And that means north main from roughly Farmers and Merchants Bank to eighth avenue will be closed for much of next summer. Earlier this week, the city awarded bids of roughly $5.4 million dollars for Phases 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the flood mitigation project.
"Mainly flood berms behind Belisio foods, flood wall behind R and F apartments and a wall behind Pizza Hut," city engineer Steven Lang told us.
A removable flood gate will also be built in the area of the former Jerry's Other Place restaurant.
"We have had to do sandbagging," said Lisa Nelson at The Cedars Of Austin on North Main street. The Cedars sits right on the edge of the work area.
"We're very fortunate our city is taking good care of us. They're not just waiting for something to happen and react, they're planning for it,"  Nelson said.
Austin's flood control project is funded largely through grant dollars, including $5 million dollars from the US Department of Commerce, and a local-option sales tax.