By BOB SHRALUKA
Well, here we are once again, boys and girls. US 224 is flooded at the Bellmont High School entrance/exit, it's causing all manner of traffic problems, and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) plan to raise the highway in that area is sort of floating along on top of the floodwater, with no definitive time for the project to get going.
INDOT has been kicking this one around for years; has had studies prepared and all; and even approved the plan. But getting something done may be as likely as spitting in the wind — or the floodwater — and wondering about the direction.
"Yeh, it's been in the works, but it has no priority and that's the problem," Mayor John Schultz said this week. "I guess you would say it's moving through channels."
That was the answer he got when he e-mailed INDOT earlier this week to let the state agency know what's almost become a rite of spring around here ... and spring is a long way off so this may be just Phase I of 2013.
"A woman there e-mailed me back and said, 'John, it's moving through channels.' So I really don't know; hopefully, maybe within the next two years...
"I'm just thankful the commissioners raised Piqua Road a few years ago. That's kept Piqua Road open, anyway."
Schultz was referring to the area just north of CR 100E which had an extreme low spot until a new bridge was put in and the road raised.
Another large plus is the detention pond at the intersection of Piqua Road and E. Monroe St. — yeh, the one everyone's been having such a good time sledding on! Now it's paying off in the way it was designed for.
Has it helped alleviate flooding in that area? "Oh, yeh; a remarkable difference," Street/Sanitation Superintendent Jeremy Gilbert said Tuesday. "Anthony Wayne (Meadows) is high and dry."
The detention pond was designed to alleviate drainage problems in AWM, and with this latest flooding it's also helped throughout the area. Gilbert said he checked it Sunday and the pond was brimming.
INDOT has to be aware
The mayor said at this week's city council meeting that he would contact State Rep. Matt Lehman of Berne to see if he could do something about getting the 224 elevation on the priority list.
"It's a funding thing right now," Schultz said at the meeting.
Councilman Ken Meyer suggested all members of council send e-mails to INDOT in hopes of lighting a fire under the elevation project.
All of the above certainly can't hinder the situation. But INDOT obviously is aware of the what's going on since it had a representative here Wednesday morning to assess the situation before allowing 224 to be reopened.
In the past, there has been some opposition locally to lifting the road in that area, with some folks concerned that such a change would only force flooding to some other area. Schultz said, though, that INDOT has since worked out that situation.
De or re...tention?
Speaking of that "pond" out by the third water tower — built, by the way during the Isch Administration after the Flood of 2003 literally cut off the eastern end of the city — it is a "detention" and not a "retention" pond.`
A retention pond is designed to hold a specific amount of water indefinitely, according to a science site on the Internet. Usually the pond is designed to have drainage leading to another location when the water level gets above the pond capacity, but still maintains a certain capacity.
A detention pond is a low-lying area that is designed to temporarily hold a set amount of water while slowly draining to another location, the science site said Detention ponds are more or less around for flood control when large amounts of rain could cause flash flooding if not dealt with properly. Which has been the case here in recent days.