Thursday, September 07, 2000

Cost grows for flood plan along Duck Creek


Estimates now at $34M from original $14M in '88

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFAX — The price tag on the massive flood-protection plan along Duck Creek has more than doubled while municipalities squabble with landowners over right of way to get to the creek.

        The cost to alleviate flooding is now $34 million, said Linda Murphy, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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        That's a big jump from the original estimate of $14 million when the corps completed a feasibility study in 1988.

        The corps wants to build a series of flood walls, pump stations and levees to tame flooding, which has damaged businesses along he creek's banks.

        Other engineering designs and inflation escalated the cost to $17 million by 1996 when the corps received authorization to start construction along the creek, which stretches from Kennedy Heights south for about 3.8 miles, emptying into the Little Miami River.

        During heavy rains, flash floods cause about $2 million in damage to about two dozen businesses in Fairfax, corps officials estimate.

        Ms. Murphy said the corps must “update plans and specifications and figure in the increased material and labor costs. We are looking at $34 or $35 million now.”

        Delays were caused when the village of Fairfax had to negotiate with the J.K. Meurer Co. to cross vacant land to get to an abandoned bridge on the creek, which took several years to settle.

        The city of Cincinnati went through lengthy negotiations with Charles and James Garner to get easement rights to an acre of vacant land north of the creek.

        The federal government will adhere to an earlier agreement and cover 75 percent of the costs with 25 percent from local sponsoring municipalities. That formula has since been changed for new projects, with the feds and local municipalities splitting costs 50-50.

        But with the total project costs increasing, local governments face much larger bills for matching funds.

        Under the original figure, Cincinnati would have spent $3.2 million for acquiring land and relocating businesses, surveys and appraisals. Fairfax expected to spend $928,000 as its local share.

        “What we have to figure out now is what the shared cost will be for the increased cost,” said Jennifer Kaminer, Fairfax administrator. “We are not sure if we can afford it now.”

        She said the delays are frustrating because Duck Creek is still a potential danger during heavy rainfalls.

        “We have been lucky,” Mrs. Kaminer said.

       



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