Gallatin and the United States Army Corps of Engineers are moving forward with a multi-million-dollar Town Creek flood reduction project that officials say could help reduce property damages along Highway 31E by more than 50 percent.
The city entered into a project partnership agreement with the federal agency Friday to build an approximately 800-foot-long detention structure near the entrance of Triple Creek Park that will back up water further onto four nearby baseball fields during significant rain events in order to help reduce flooding downstream.
“Everybody knows that in May 2010 extreme historic flooding caused significant damage to the downtown area,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Commander Lt. Col. Cullen Jones said about the project. “What this is going to do is reduce flood risks for downtown Gallatin and Highway 31E.”
At the time, more than 380 structures were flooded resulting in more than $27.2 million in damages locally, according to federal agency.
An estimated 38 percent of the affected buildings will flood less frequently as a result of the project, which will result in a reduction of the overall amount of damages by 54 percent.
Despite the benefits, some members of the Gallatin City Council raised questions last week about whether the detention structure could also negatively impact some nearby properties upstream along the creek.
“I’m more scared about (water) backing up into the houses and the businesses than I am really the four ball fields,” District 3 Councilman Jimmy Overton said during a committee meeting June 11. “I’m scared we’re going to try to fix something and we’re going to break something else. I’m really concerned about that.”
While the project would increase the depth of water held at the park from a maximum of 1.5 feet to 4 feet at its deepest point, Tuttle said officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have said neighboring properties will not be flooded as a result.
“We’ve had the same discussion with them and from the… models that they’ve run up to this point, they are assuring us there will be no issues,” Tuttle said. “It will impact the fields, but the fields are already impacted.”
In addition to the detention structure, a portion of Champion Drive near the entrance to the park would be slightly raised along with measures to floodproof electrical infrastructure at the ball fields and concession area. A memorial honoring fallen police officers will also need to be relocated, according to city officials.
The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.6 million with 65 percent being paid for with federal funding, according to a memo from Tuttle to city leaders on June 11. Gallatin’s portion – estimated at $916,300 – is expected to be reduced to $130,900 once the city receives credit for the value of the property and other in-kind contributions to the project. The remaining amount is expected to be paid for using revenue from the city’s monthly stormwater utility fee.
Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimate that it could take three years to complete the project.
“Flood reduction for the City of Gallatin is very important,” Mayor Paige Brown said. “When it comes to people’s personal property, we certainly want to protect that.
“While we hope we have no more rains like we did in 2010, we certainly would be better prepared (with this project) if we did.”