City to replace culvert

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; A concrete drain is on the way to Passbach Street, aimed at preventing flooding in heavy rains.

The box culvert, a rectangular drain, will replace one half its size under Passbach Street that got blocked and damaged during last year&8217;s hurricanes, City Engineer David Gardner said Friday.

During the storms, water rose quickly in a street-side drainage ditch, Gardner said. When it did, it picked up limbs and leaves not normally in the creek and blocked the culvert.

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&8220;So much water was trying to get through the culvert, it got worse and worse,&8221; Gardner said. &8220;The water had nowhere to go, so it went over the roadway. Then, it flooded some of that neighborhood and left silt in the streets and people&8217;s yards, even people&8217;s houses.&8221;

The culvert suffered physical damage, like erosion, he said. Since hit had to be replaced, the city is installing a larger one to prevent similar backups.

&8220;We wanted to take advantage of it, to increase the size of the culvert, so it won&8217;t happen as quickly as it did with that rainfall,&8221; he said.

The city got the culvert at a discounted price and recently accepted bids for contractors to start the job. The project, including surveying, construction and supplies, will cost around $80,000, Gardner said.

A check from FEMA will pay for about 70 percent, he said. The problem is the prices for supplies and labor have gone up, and the tab the city quoted

FEMA a year ago will not cover the project now.

The city is asking FEMA for money to cover the rest of the project, but the agency will not hand over the money until after the project is complete. Even then, Gardner said he is not sure they will provide the money at all.

In the meantime, the city will supplement 30 percent of the project&8217;s cost, hoping FEMA will reimburse them at the end, he said.