Unique Solution To Stormwater Problem Combines Recreational Use, Storm Runoff

July 2, 2003

The last thing commuters in South Charlotte, North Carolina, want to see is another road construction project. The areas around heavily traveled Kenilworth Avenue and Park Road already have been the subject of the nearly two-year South Water Main project--a venture designed to carry large amounts of drinking water to southern Mecklenburg County.

As a result of the water main installation, area roads have been snarled by traffic due to construction barricades, lane closures, excavated streets, and the elimination of traffic lights. These issues have only recently settled since the installation was completed late last year.

At the same time the water main project was beginning, an assessment of the city's stormwater infrastructure also was taking place. The Magnolia/Kirkwood Stormwater Study identified the Park Road and Kenilworth Avenue storm culverts as below the current city standards for flooding impact.

During periods of heavy, infrequent rainfall these areas backup because of the culverts inability to convey excess water beneath the streets from one side of the road to the other. This potential flooding could bring about unfavorable conditions for motorists, emergency vehicles and local businesses.

The option to replace the culverts with larger structures designed to pass these storm events would mean additional construction and traffic delays in the areas already impacted by the water main project.

Local engineering consultant W.K. Dickson & Co., Inc. (WKD), working with Charlotte Storm Water Services (CSWS), developed an initiative that would attenuate or "slow down" runoff prior to it reaching the overburdened culverts.

WKD specializes in eleven professional engineering and design practice areas, including stormwater management and parks and recreation planning. At the city's request, WKD re-evaluated the existing stormwater system and proposed that nearby Sedgefield Park, also in need of significant renovation, have a section set aside to temporarily store water during infrequent rain events, thereby utilizing the firm's expertise in both practice areas.

By carefully planning an area in the park to handle runoff, the water collected could be released downstream over a short period of time after the remaining additional stormwater was first collected by the culverts.

"What this means for Charlotte Storm Water Services is that excavated land in non-critical park areas allows for temporary ponding of rain water," said Scott Whalen, WKD's project manager. "Not only does this plan meet the goal of bringing the culverts up to city standards, but it would mean that sections of Park Road and Kenilworth Avenue would no longer have to be replaced and the traveling public would not have to endure another closure of both roads."

The results of the WKD plan would also allow funds earmarked for culvert upgrades to be used for projects that would not have been realized otherwise.

"CSWS would contribute portions of the funds initially allocated to replacing the culverts to funds already allocated for Sedgefield Park upgrades," said CSWS' project manager, Jennifer Conia. "This will allow for additional amenities such as a foot bridges, shelters, basketball courts and some additional landscaping to be added to the park now instead of waiting for more funds to surface...everybody wins," she added.

The proposed project was so promising that city engineers gave WKD the go ahead to design the project without delay. After thorough coordination with the county, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and neighborhood residents, the construction plan is nearly complete, and park renovations are in the works this summer.

The entire park project is scheduled to be completed by spring of 2004.

For further information, contact W.K. Dickson & Co., Inc. at 919/851-6364.