Flood Wall Offers Protection; Winding Path Brings New Look to Greenway
A significant project in protecting the Woodhurst and Southwood Park neighborhoods from flooding is complete.
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry joined Public Works Director Bob Kennedy and residents from the neighborhoods for at ribbon cutting to mark the completion of a one mile Woodhurst flood control project. The project features a wall that connects with an earthen levee.
The City worked with the Army Corp of Engineers to design the wall after floods hit the area in 2003 and 2005.
“After two devastating floods within 18 months of each other, residents along the St. Marys River wanted something done to prevent future flood damage. The City was ready to step up to help quickly,” said Mayor Henry.
In July 2003 and January 2005, the St. Marys River rose well above flood stage, threatening homes along the river. Instead of waiting for federal flood assistance, the City funded the project with a stormwater bond.
“We were already conducting a study with the Army Corp and after the second flood we decided something had to be done on a local level, said Bob, Kennedy, Director of Public Works. So we decided to spend $8.5 million for flood construction projects and another $2.5 million in home buyouts to address flooding in south Fort Wayne.”
The $3 million invested in the Woodhurst not only protects the neighborhood, it’s also a boost to the economy. About $1.4 million of the project’s costs remained in the local economy in the form of salaries and wages.
Mayor Henry says he’s proud of how closely residents worked together with city staff in planning the project.
“In the spirit of an All-America City, municipal government collaborated with residents to make today a reality where we can celebrate not shun our rivers,” said Mayor Henry.
“The City was very responsive to resident’s comments and suggestions. There were a number of public meetings at which the City presented its plans and sought input. In fact in a number of areas the City incorporated suggestions from residents, said Charles Heiny, Woodhurst resident. This project is a splendid example of community government in action.”
The ceremony also celebrated the reopening of the Rivergreenway from Hartman Road to Airport Expressway after being closed for more than year while the floodwall was under construction.
Originally a park road, the route was converted to the St. Marys Pathway in the 1980s. The floodwall contractor used this one-mile section for construction traffic. The path was redesigned and reconstructed after the flood control project. Alec Johnson, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation’s landscape architect, designed the new alignment, giving the greenway a better view of the river and improved experience for trail users.