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TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2007
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Relief coming for flooding on 8th Ave. S.W.

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

A drainage project spanning 10 city blocks could help prevent street flooding in Southwest Decatur.

More than 2 inches of rain fell in Decatur on Saturday, clogging two street drains with debris. The deluge quickly flooded Eighth Avenue between First and Second streets, turning the road into a swimming hole for neighborhood children.

Residents said heavy rain has frequently flooded the area over the past two decades. Council President Billy Jackson, who represents the district, said Monday that help is on the way.

"It needs a different drainage grid or culvert to relieve that problem," Jackson said.

"We funded a $60,000 to $80,000 project that increased the water flow through that area," but the grated drains clog with debris, flooding the low-lying road.

The floodwater subsided Saturday, when Wayne Wascavage with the Public Works Department cleared the drains with a pitchfork. Police diverted traffic around the flooded street.

Mark Petersohn, director of Decatur's Engineering and Public Works departments, said workers would soon begin cleaning the drains.

10-block area

"We've got about a 10-block area between 12th and Seventh (avenues) and Second and Moulton (streets) that we'll have a Vactor truck clean all the inlet pipes and remove any obstructions," Petersohn said. "We have a combination of piping that needs to be upgraded."

The upgrades, Petersohn said, will also involve replacing the grated covers on Eighth Avenue with open throats, which are less likely to clog.

"I think we can have a dramatic improvement in drainage by year's end," Petersohn said.

He said the improved drains will be too small for children to slip through.

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