Borman to get flood fix at Kennedy

2009-08-12T00:15:00Z Borman to get flood fix at KennedyKeith Benman -, (219) 933-3326

The Indiana Department of Transportation will install a stormwater pumping station southeast of the Kennedy Avenue interchange on the Borman Expressway to alleviate flooding that closed the Borman twice in two years.

"We've learned a lot in the last two years," INDOT District Deputy Commissioner Michael McPhillips said Tuesday.

But INDOT is stopping short of implementing all the recommendations in an engineering report prepared after flooding first closed the road in August 2007.

That report, prepared by Indianapolis engineering firm Earth Tech, called for $7 million in total flood-prevention improvements, including a pumping station at the Indianapolis Boulevard interchange.

Preliminary estimates put the price of the Kennedy pump station and other work at about $2 million, McPhillips said at a Tuesday meeting of Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's transportation policy committee. Bids will be opened for the project in the fall.

McPhillips said the recent building of the Little Calumet levee south of the Indianapolis Boulevard interchange, and changes that affecting area's hydrology, are believed to have resolved much of the flooding problems there. INDOT also has pumps on standby that can be moved into the area in case waters rise.

He said INDOT is taking a wait-and-see attitude and will do more work on the boulevard interchange if needed.

Hammond City Engineer Stan Dostatni praised the INDOT project Tuesday. He said the installation of a sluice gate that can be operated manually south of the Indianapolis Boulevard interchange has gone a long way to resolving the problem at that location.

"Kennedy is the worst-case scenario because it's the lowest point on the Borman," Dostatni said.

Hammond officials, including Dostatni, faulted the design of the Borman's drainage system after the 2007 flood. INDOT officials defended the road's design, saying the unusually heavy rains that August were to blame.

On Tuesday, McPhillips said plans laid after the 2007 flood just weren't up to the task when the September 2008 floods poured in.

"We had an action plan, and we put it into effect, but the river didn't stay in its banks, and we were flooded," McPhillips said.

After the 2008 flood, when the road was closed for a week, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., called for an inquiry into the Borman design. Expansion work on that portion of the road had been completed three years prior.

INDOT reviews found the 2007 flooding at the Kennedy Avenue interchange was caused mainly by a 54-inch flap gate that was stuck in the open position when it should have been closed.

All reviews have shown that better communication among government agencies would help in the case of future floods. After the 2008 flood, then-Little Calumet River Basin Commission Chairman Dan Gardner called for his commission, the city of Hammond and INDOT to work together on a solution.

On Tuesday, McPhillips said INDOT now is conducting a survey of drainage and hydrology along the entire Borman Expressway corridor. He said his agency will be entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Little Calumet River Basin Commission to better coordinate their activities in the future.

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