(Photos by Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
Another substantial link in Johnson City’s long-term flood mitigation plan is in full swing at the intersection of South Broadway and East Main streets, an area where businesses are hit hard during rain events and sustain more than their fair share of damage.
The low-lying area northeast of downtown may not be getting the trees, landscaping, bridges walkways, and various aesthetic goodies the way Founders Park is. But it is a crucial city crossroads, and major infrastructure fixes are on the way that should greatly improve stormwater and traffic flow.
“This was a planned intersection improvement, but it just so happened this also was an area needing flood mitigation,” Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said. “Three improvements actually are being made that tie together into one project: putting in a new drainage structure, creating and enlarging a wetlands area and upgrading an intersection to improve safety.”
Scotchman Exxon, Johnson City Discount Grocery, Babies on Broadway and other businesses near the intersection have typically been hardest hit by flooding, with water generally flowing from the Johnson City Housing Authority property to the intersection where the majority of the water flows to the left down Broadway.
The biggest problems originate from overflow of a Brush Creek tributary that feeds down through the Keystone area. The contractor has set up a pumping system at a low spot near the intersection for now to redirect that water into a temporary piping system, which carries it back to the creek.
Flooding has occurred basically because the pipes meant to carry it were blocked or too small. There also are two legs to the tributary. One starts near Legion Street and runs through Memorial Park, and this is the main troublemaker. The other runs through the neighborhood and then through small box culverts.
“When flooding occurs, we have to barricade the streets,” Pindzola said. “Our intention is to not have streets that are impassable during these kind of events.”
The city awarded a $833,000 contract to Elizabethton’s Summers Taylor to replace old 48-inch underground pipe with a new 3-foot by 12-foot culvert from the housing authority property, under the intersection and along the north side of South Broadway, where it will empty into the expanded wetlands area.
“The city is excavating an area on that side of the street from the existing wetlands below Iris Glen to an outlet structure constructed by Summers Taylor,” Pindzola said. “I’ve just seen the inside of some of the old pipe, and it looks like a clogged artery. This will help us capture water that used to accumulate on the housing authority property a spill out onto the intersection. The new culvert has a 36-square-foot capacity -- three times that of the old pipe.”
Workers with the company were laying sections of the culvert on Tuesday, nearing the busy intersection, which Pindzola said could prove to be tricky.
“There’s a lot of traffic flowing through there, and that’s where the city comes in,” he said. “Summers Taylor is responsible for rebuilding Broadway, including resetting the curbs and repaving the intersection.”
The city, which will spend about $250,00, will then reset the rest of the curbing, create a designated left turn lane, center drive and designated right turn lane for each of the four entrances to that intersection. New traffic signals also will be installed that incorporate the mast arm design, which support the signals horizontally above the road.