Alabama 261 flood mitigation project under way

PELHAM – The Pelham City Council announced at a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3, that the Alabama 261 Drainage Improvement Project began that day with construction crews starting excavation work at the site where retention ponds will be constructed.

The total cost of the project is $2.06 million, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency contributing 75 percent of the funds for the project, which equals $1.54 million. The city is responsible for paying 25 percent, which amounts to $515,375.

Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes said crews began the project by moving dirt and bulldozing a tree. Hayes said he’s excited to see the project move forward.

The flood mitigation project will alleviate flooding in neighborhoods along Shelby County 261.

“I’m excited because every time we get predictions for a bad storm, it worries me,” Hayes said. “We can’t stop Mother Nature, but we’ve found an answer for it.”

In September 2016, the City Council approved a bid of $1.14 million from Birmingham-based Forestry Environmental Services for the construction of the flood mitigation retention ponds.

The city entered into a $91,700 agreement with Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood for construction engineering services and supervision of the project. Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood architects estimated that the project would take 120 days to complete, but the contract allows up to 180 days.

The project was first initiated in 2007 and gained traction in 2008. The city applied for the FEMA grant in 2009.

Retention ponds, connected by a low-lying tract of land called a swale, will capture and store rainwater runoff and drain it in a titrated fashion so that it does not overwhelm the drainage system.

The retention ponds and swales are intended to be dry except for during a rain event.

The city tore down five houses in the Saddle Run neighborhood and cleared the lots to help make room for the retention ponds.

At the meeting, the City Council also discussed developing an ordinance to address issues in Carroll Park. Pelham resident Douglas Bradle addressed the council to share his concerns regarding the park.

Bradle said that often when he is walking his dog in Carroll Park, he notices people hitting golf balls there. Bradle said he’s worried that one day someone will get hurt.

Hayes said city employees are aware of the problem and have told residents that they shouldn’t be hitting golf balls in the park. Hayes said although city employees tell people not to hit golf balls in the park, there isn’t a law prohibiting it.

“It’s a common sense issue that needs to be addressed,” Hayes said. “No one has been hurt yet, and hopefully we will have an ordinance together in a few months.