Wichita crews working to keep streets from flooding

Local

The recent heavy rain across Wichita this week caused some street flooding.  

Alan King, the Wichita Public Works Director, said all the rain is putting a stress on the drainage systems especially since the ground is already saturated from the recent snow.  

“There’s no surprise that we’re finding some localized places where water is standing on the roads,” said King.  

All that combined is keeping stormwater management crews busy.  

In response, the city has three crews working since Tuesday to clear the drains.   

“We’ve been working 12 hours, two shifts,” said Miguel Rivas, City of Wichita equipment operator.  

Making sure the city’s storm water system will work properly and reduce what the city calls nuisance flooding.  

“It’s a short time duration, it’s not very deep, people can traverse it safely, and it doesn’t last for very long,” said King.  

But street flooding is more than a nuisance for some who live there.   

Mary Pierce has lived on Bleckley Drive almost three years. Flooding is a common occurrence.  

“If we’re going to get good rainfall, you have to monitor the weather, and you know it’s going to flood on Bleckley,” said Pierce.  

Wednesday was no different. Earlier Wednesday morning, the area of Bleckley and Waterman turned into a river after heavy rainfall.  

“Things float down the street, you can lose a car, and I have seen cars float down the street,” said Pierce. “Trash cans often float down the street.”  

Bleckley’s drainage problem is still a top priority, according to the city.   

“We do have plans in the works to improve the flooding in that area,” said King. “But it’s a big project, it’s something like $36 million to be able to address the Bleckley flooding problem.”  

According to the city, finding funding for the project is what’s slowing it down.  

“The reason why we haven’t fixed it yet, we’re just trying to figure out how to pay for it,” said King.  “There’s funds that will be coming out of the stormwater enterprise fund and probably looking for other funding sources.” 

In June 2017, the city increased the storm water fees to $1.50 on the water and sewer bills. 

“And that has helped us accumulate some money, and so now, we can actually be serious on having some improvement there,” said King.  

The city is evaluating some possible solutions.  

“One is to find temporary storage area we’ve been talking about even acquiring some property to do that,“ said King. “There’s some property near the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center. The other thing is making bigger the pipes that convey the water to where it eventually goes. That’s why the big price tag because you basically have to chase it up from Kellogg to 13th street to make that happen.” 

The city didn’t give a timeline for when they hope to begin the improvements to Bleckley Drive, but Pierce hopes it will be sooner rather than later.  

“I would like to see the city work on this as soon as possible,” said Pierce. “It’s dangerous, it’s annoying, and it’s not good for the homes and the homeowners around here.“ 

Once the city finishes the improvements along Bleckley Drive, next in line of priority is the area along Murdock near Via Christi St. Francis Hospital.  

“With the proximity to the hospital, we want to make sure that traffic is able to get through there at all times,” said King.  

King estimates the Murdock drainage improvements will cost between $4 to $5 million.  

Pawnee and Meridian is another area prone to flooding. According to the city, phase one of improvements there are complete and phase two will take place in the near future.  

If you need to report a storm drain issue fill out this online form here or call 316-268-4498. 

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