The Little River Park area isn’t the only place underwater in this town after a period of heavy rainfall.
During a recent budget meeting, Public Works Director Chris Ray showed commissioners examples of flash flooding in the area of West Sycamore Street and West Gannon Avenue, near Zebulon United Methodist Church and the center of town.
Concerns over public safety and property damage have prompted town staff to propose a pricey drainage project, which if approved could begin in the upcoming fiscal year.
“Driving through water at that level clearly is a safety hazard and is not recommended,” Ray said as he showed a photo of Gannon Avenue under several inches of storm water.
The flooding has also meant more work for public works staff, which has had to clear debris from catch basins along East Sycamore Sycamore to prevent property damage there.
The town hired a firm to compile a preliminary engineering report for the area.
“Basically, what the results showed is that the pipes are on a reverse grade in multiple locations, and the pipe is undersized to handle the sufficient drainage area,” Ray said. “When we have those large-intensity rains over a short period of time is when it’s overwhelming the capacity.”
Since the project will be both expensive and time consuming, staff wants to split it into two phases.
The first-phase work – including easement acquisition, design, permitting and bidding – would be completed in the upcoming budget year at an estimated cost of $112,000. Construction, estimated to cost $742,000, is proposed for the 2019 fiscal year.
Staff recommends financing the entire project over seven years, paying about $121,500 each year.
Zebulon would repay the loan mostly with storm-water fees and some capital reserves. The storm-water fee generates about $115,000 annually in revenue for the town, and Ray said that figure is growing about 3 percent each year.
The town assigned $40,000 in this year’s budget toward designing the second phase of the Yates Place project, addressing storm-water build-up along the side of the residential road. The first phase, completed last year, took care of flooding affecting homes in the cul-de-sac at the bottom of the road.
But Ray recommended transferring the $40,000 from the Yates Place project to the West Sycamore and West Gannon project because of the severity of the problems there.
A public hearing on the proposed $9.9 million budget is scheduled for June 5. Commissioners could adopt the spending plan at that meeting, or anytime before July 1.