Just two months after crews finished a $10 million renovation to Stadium Way, Tacoma’s City Council is poised to spend an additional 20 percent to solve flooding issues at the bottom of Stadium Way and nearby Commerce Street.
City planners said recently that more intense rain squalls are occurring and that they did not realize how much water these localized storms would unleash. Such storms fill gutters and storm water pipes, which cause temporary ponds and localized flooding.
The city currently designs its stormwater systems to convey water from a 25-year storm, which means rainfall so heavy that such a storm could be expected only once every 25 years. But three storms in Tacoma within the last year have reached the 100-year intensity, said Lorna Mauren, who manages surface water programs for the city of Tacoma.
In one instance, the water flooded a law office on Commerce adjacent to Old City Hall, city officials say.
To fix the drainage issues on Commerce Street will require $1.3 million in fixes to stormwater infrastructure, Mauren said. The contract with Ceccanti Inc. would cost $1.9 million and could be approved by the Tacoma City Council during its meeting Tuesday. The money would come from stormwater fees that city residents and businesses pay.
Mike Slevin, the city’s environmental services manager, said recently that the city decided to make the changes in mid-September, before the last of three intense storms.
“The intensities of the storms have changed,” Slevin said recently, “We have not seen intensities like this historically. We did the design based on historic storms.”
The extra work will involve replacing an old storm water pipe, enlarging the pipes underneath Commerce Street at the base of the Spanish Steps, reconstructing a curb to prevent water from leaving the road and building a large-diameter storm main over the hillside and north along 750 feet of Schuster Parkway.
If the council approves the plan, construction on Commerce Street could begin next month and last through January. At most, one lane would be closed to traffic during that time, Mauren said.
Southbound Schuster Parkway, however, could be closed for eight to 10 weeks, from January through the end of February, said Erik Ward, an engineer for the project.
The city’s Stadium Way arterial project has so far cost $10.7 million, which reinforced the slide-prone slope, resurfaced the road, and added bike lanes and a scenic walking path. Of that money, $8.3 million came from a federal highways grant.
Mauren said that so far neither the law office nor its landlord has asked for reimbursement from the city due to the water damage. The property owner did not respond to requests for comment.Kate Martin: 253-597-8542 kate.martin@ thenewstribune.com @KateReports