J.M.W. Turner's "Chichester Canal" at the Tate Gallery, London

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Engineers recommend $10 million flood plan for Phoenicia

Story on DailyFreeman.com:

Engineers say replacing the Bridge Street Bridge and enhancing the floodplain around Phoenicia is the best way to reduce flooding in the hamlet.

The $10 million plan, however, would not eliminate flooding altogether and would not be painless.
Some buildings in Phoenicia, like the offices of Ruth Gale Realty, some parts of the Black Bear Campground on Bridge Street and some homes on Station Road, would have to go. In essence, the idea is to lower the ground on both sides of the Esopus Creek to give floodwater a place to go instead of up onto Main Street.

A fringe benefit would be there would also be new property available for recreation use, perhaps even for the Phoenicia Riverwalk, a plan discussed several years ago to energize the back side of the hamlet’s Main Street structures alongside the creek.

When all is said and done, engineers calculate that flooding on Main Street will drop by about a foot during major events like the one seen when Hurricane Irene hit in 2011.

At an Aug. 10 session held at the Phoenicia Parish Hall, Engineer Mark Carabetta walked those in attendance through his past 10 months of work on evaluating options for Phoenicia.

Dredging the Esopus, according to Carabetta, would not reduce flooding much at all. Nor would replacing the Woodland Valley Bridge with a wider span or modifying the Stony Clove Bridge.

Widening the span of the Bridge Street Bridge, he added, would not help much unless the floodplain area was increased.

Carabetta’s work is part of a Town effort to identify a plausible project that makes sense from a money standpoint. Federal level funding is available for flood projects, but only if proven to have a strong enough cost benefit.

This plan, Carabetta said, represents a $10.1 million benefit over a 50 year period. Because the benefit outweighs the cost, he added, this is a viable project.

“There’s a good chance it would be funded by a number of agencies,” he said.
Phoenicia resident Michelle Spark warned that, no matter what plan is put in place, the Esopus Creek remains a wild card. All this work could be done, she said, but then the creek could just shift to a new location.

But, doing nothing is not an option, said Town Supervisor Rob Stanley.

“With flooding, there’s no magic bullet,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do to stop flooding.”
Ric Ricciardella told Carabetta time is of the essence and now that there is a plan, it is time to get it done.

“I don’t care if you get 10 engineers,” Ricciardella said. “We’re waiting and waiting. This could have been done last fall and it would have been over by now.

“How long are we going to wait for another flood?”

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