Albany plans new construction to fix flooding problem

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The city of Albany has planned for new construction to take place that will help combat the city’s flooding issues.

It’s a continuing problem for Albany. Anytime there is an intense rainfall, the old, combined water and sewage lines can’t handle it. The city responded to 30 flooding calls during strong thunderstorms on Tuesday.

But the city said it has a plan in place to help.

Officials said construction is scheduled to begin on Quail Street by the end of June. It will be a $2.8 million project that should help flooding in the area.

The plan is to rip up the sidewalk from Western Avenue to Central Avenue and remove the material underneath. Then they will put a porous surface between the curb and the sidewalk that allows water coming from the sidewalk to drain through the porous surface, so it doesn’t hit the street.

Under the sidewalk, the city will construct bio retention basins, so they can catch and hold the water so it can be released slowly.

Joe Coffey is the Commissioner for the City of Albany Department of Water and Water Supply.

“It helps take some of the flooding out of the sewer system, so we have a little bit more capacity farther downstream,” he said.

Coffey said the problem with the current system is not how long it rains but the intensity.

“You could have two inches of rain in 24 hours and it’s not too big a problem because the system can handle it,” he said. “If you get two inches of rain in an hour, that’s a much different circumstance, so the sewers tend to fill up very quickly.”

After Tuesday’s flooding calls, the city had to deal with sinkholes on Wednesday. One was found on Hansen Avenue and South Main Street.

Coffey said sinkholes occur when a sewer pipe that has a defect or crack gets too much water in them, and the water comes up and erodes the soil bringing dirt back down into the pipe.

“So as it keeps sucking more dirt into the sewer pipe, we get these sinkholes the next day,” he explained.

He said when the city receives quick, heavy rain, the current system can’t handle it.

“We have hundreds of miles of sewer pipes,” he said. “We have an old sewer that goes back certainly into the 1850s. And our water mains – we got 300-some miles, and 35 percent of those predate 1900.”

Coffey said the city is working to do some storm water retention and mitigation.

“To help minimize some of the immediate storm water that goes into the sewer on Sheridan, but we need to do more, obviously,” he said. “It’s a process. It’s not going to get solved overnight.”

But Coffey said the city’s plan to invest in its infrastructure will help.

“We are going to be putting in a green infrastructure project essentially between the houses and the curb line,” he explained of the work to be done on Quail Street.

Of the $2.8 million, $1.7 is coming as a grant from the Environmental Facilities Corporation. The city hopes to finish the project by the end of 2015. They also hope to start construction on another project to help the Elberon Place area by 2016.

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