County studies stormwater problems in Alkali Creek subdivision; plans repairs

2014-04-15T17:00:00Z 2014-04-16T00:20:21Z County studies stormwater problems in Alkali Creek subdivision; plans repairsBy MIKE FERGUSON mferguson@
The Billings Gazette

Helping residents of the Sun Valley Subdivision deal with stormwater runoff during heavy rains was the main order of business during Tuesday’s meeting of the Yellowstone County Board of Commissioners.

A study by the Billings firm Morrison Maierle Inc. is nearly complete, said engineer Dax Simek of Morrison Maierle. The study area includes about 440 acres north and east of the main runway at Billings Logan International Airport off of Alkali Creek Road.

Four storms over the last 10 years — in 2004, 2010, 2011 and 2013 — have caused “considerable damage” to property in the subdivision, he said.

The 3.12 inches of rain that fell on May 24, 2011, is one of the top-10 all-time for a 24-hour period in Billings, but the damage done by the Sept. 7, 2011, storm was even worse, Simek noted, because most of the rain fell in about 20 minutes, overwhelming culverts and flooding homes.

The engineer’s estimate for recommended repairs — which includes constructing uniform ditch sections, installing driveway culverts and erosion control measures, building roadside ditches in the Valley Heights portion of the study area and replacing undersized culverts beneath Alkali Creek Road — will amount to $599,400, he said.

Homeowners can help mitigate potential damage by providing for drainage away from their homes and extending basement window wells, Simek said.

Dick Reich, who lives on Sun Valley Road, told commissioners that he and his neighbors don’t believe the stormwater runoff comes from the subdivision alone, but is intensified by the proximity of the airport. “I appreciate your efforts to begin a process. At least something is being done,” Reich said. “Residents who have dealt with floods four times in the last few years certainly have cause for concern.”

Commission Chair Jim Reno said that the board will have “an in-depth neighborhood discussion” as soon as Morrison Maierle completes the study in the next few days.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to rescind a planned second public auction on the county-owned building at 214 N. 24th St.

Instead, commissioners will entertain private offers on the property through May 13.

Originally, the board established a reserve price of $293,000 for the original auction, but no one met that price. Commissioners then decided leading up to the second auction to lower the reserve price by 10 percent, to $263,700.

But now, based on conversations with potential buyers, commissioners believe they can get more than that for the two-story office building.

Bill Oakey, a structural engineer at Design 3 Engineering in Billings, discussed a proposed bridge the county hopes to build on Laurel Airport Road that will cost about $1.2 million. The county hopes to have half the project paid for with state funds.

The current bridge is 50 years old and was built in the style of a railroad bridge, Oakey said. Drivers approaching the bridge don’t have adequate sight lines to notice, for example, if a pedestrian may be walking on the bridge. Commissioners are scheduled to sign the Treasure State Endowment Program application during their meeting Tuesday, April 22.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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