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Fayetteville stormwater plan would replace bridges on Person, Russell streets

City Council OKs stream upgrades in flood-prone areas at Blounts Creek


Fayetteville is moving forward with plans to spend more than $20 million on bridge upgrades and other projects to address stormwater threats.

On Monday night, the City Council voted unanimously to recommend improvements to bridges on Person and Russell streets and to make stream enhancements for part of the Blounts Creek watershed.

Councilman Johnny Dawkins, who has chaired the city’s stormwater committee for five years, said an abnormal quantity of surface water from heavy rainfall or snowfall is “a problem of our time.”

“Stormwater – it’s very important,” Councilman Larry Wright concurred.

Byron Reeves, the stormwater manager and assistant public services director for the city, said the total cost of the work would run about $20.5 million.

His estimate for the work on the Person Street bridge is $3.7 million. For work on the Russell Street bridge and the accompanying railroad, his estimate is about $12 million. The cost of stream enhancements in the area adds another $4.7 million for a $20.5 million total.

Design costs for the projects will come from the stormwater enterprise fund. The city will apply for grants for construction.

The projects are in areas considered prone to flooding.

They would help resolve potential flooding by stabilizing and restoring floodplain storage, city spokeswoman Jodi Phelps said.

“This would add to promote a sustainable corridor, and that is something we really support,” said Reeves, the stormwater manager. “This area is quite busy with a lot of … flooding. But with the primary improvements and the secondary (improvements), it really clears it out and brings a tremendous amount of structures out of the floodplain and roads open.”

The city staff has recommended moving forward with an overall $50 million worth of stormwater improvements to date. The multiyear watershed master plan includes proposals to reduce the threat of flooding citywide.

Since December 2021, the staff has recommended projects currently in the design and planning stage in the watersheds of Rockfish Creek, Little Cross Creek, Beaver Creek 3, Cape Fear 2-Locks Creek, and Blounts Creek, Phelps said.

The council accepted the staff’s summary report providing information about the need for a future stormwater fee increase and approval of revenue bonds to pay for the proposed projects.

The schedule for the improvements calls for planning and environmental permitting and railroad coordination for the initial 18 months or so, Reeves said. That would be followed by design, right-of-way easements and utility needs for another 24 months. Construction would get underway another 30 months after that, Reeves said.

“This is assuming that we’re able to do everything concurrently,” he noted.

“If we’re ready, everything lines up, we’ve got a chance. And that’s the best without asking our citizens to pay more,” said Reeves. “We’re going to ask our citizens to pay more in the future, and that’s coming from a fellow that doesn’t want to tell folks they have to pay more. Stormwater is a problem of our time. We cannot wish this problem away. We have to take action.

Dawkins said the stormwater projects are vital.

“We have to rebuild our infrastructure,” Dawkins said. “We will not solve our stormwater problems over these next few years. It’s going to take decades.”

Councilwoman Kathy Jensen also praised the plan.

“We can kind of see where we’re going, and we have a plan,” Jensen said. “If you have a plan and you’re prepared, and there’s money to be given, you get it first. We are definitely ahead of the game because going in, if there is any funding out there for us, y'all have done the job to make it easy to say we have a plan.”

The City Council also discussed an alternative plan to control flooding at Locks Creek. It had asked for additional information in April.

The city staff determined that the $45.4 million alternative plan, which would include property acquisition, a levee and a pump station, would be too costly.

The council agreed to stick with the original recommendation. It will include about $8.8 million in investment to elevate Locks Creek Road and upgrade stormwater systems on Pasture Lane, Windmill Road and Bridgeton Way. That would protect access to neighborhoods during less severe storms but would not protect against more serious flooding.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com

Fayetteville, City Council, Blounts Creek, flooding, stormwater