Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

Brooksville addresses drainage problems

BROOKSVILLE — Bring up the topic of rainstorms at the city of Brooksville public works department, and people instantly mention the frog-choking Aug. 22 deluge that turned the intersection of Broad Street and Cortez Boulevard into a river complete with flooded cars and floating utility sheds.

Ever since, Public Works Director Richard Radacky and his staff have been working to prevent such floods in the future. And with this year's hurricane and rainy seasons both under way — and the 2-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Debby coming this month — Radacky is not the only public employee working on fixes to drainage problems.

County workers and state transportation officials are also using reports of damage from previous storms to plan projects they hope will protect citizens and property during the next downpour.

The county has just finished a large drainage pond off Jefferson Street near the south Brooksville community center. Another pond is planned for the city's Russell Street Park.

Additional property has been purchased in the south Brooksville to continue to work on a variety of drainage issues that have historically plagued the area, said Mark Guttman, county engineer.

Earlier this month, Guttman walked the Times through the long list of other drainage problems identified after Tropical Storm Debby, including damaged culverts, sinkholes and road washouts. Beside each description was a place to mark whether the project was done. Most were. Some fixes are still coming.

After the storm, residents of Dogwood Estates, west of Brooksville, struggled to get in and out of their flooded community. In the coming weeks, Guttman said, residents will see work begin on raising the access road by 4 feet.

Another major problem after Debby was standing water at Spring Hill Drive and the entrance to the Hernando County Detention Center. A cooperative funding agreement with the Southwest Florida Water Management District is planned to sort out long-term fixes to this issue.

As Guttman and the county's stormwater engineer Clay Black explained, some areas have flooding problems that can be fixed. Others areas are natural bowls that collect water and cannot be easily repaired.

In Brooksville, another study with Swiftmud is under way to figure out how to prevent a repeat of last summer's flood. But Radacky noted that when six to seven inches of rain fall in 45 minutes, there is only so much that can be done. He hopes the study will be finished by December, he said, and "then we'll be in good shape to get future funding to correct these problems.''

Brooksville has also made improvements to prevent sewage spills like the one that forced the temporary closure of the city's main sewage pumping station after the storm in August.

Several projects are also still under way on the Suncoast Parkway in the county, including work to prevent serious flooding at the northern end of the road. Debby's rains put portions of the parkway underwater for days.

In addition to resurfacing the roadway throughout the county and making other roadside and drainage improvements, the work has raised the roadbed and ramps at the northern end of the road and expanded a drainage pond on the west side of the road. The projects cost a total of $20 million and are expected to be completed by the end of fall.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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