July 27, 2023 - Spotlighting the completion of another major neighborhood investment, Mayor Tom Henry today joined residents of the Blackhawk neighborhood, Blackhawk Christian Schools and staff from City Utilities to celebrate significant drainage improvements.
Flooding and standing water issues have plagued the Blackhawk neighborhood for years. To alleviate these issues, City Utilities' stormwater engineers and maintenance team members worked side-by-side with residents. They analyzed the topography and the impact of rain events on the area, using that empirical data to build their improvement plans.
This week saw the wrap-up of the project's third phase culminating in more than $1.5 million in mitigation efforts initiated over the past nine years in the Blackhawk area. It is work that protects more than 400 homes.
"I'm particularly impressed with the results of these major stormwater improvements for the Blackhawk neighborhood. Having a high-performing stormwater system helps make Fort Wayne a desirable community," said Mayor Henry. "City Utilities continues to provide essential services that matter and are important to residents. The record investment of $135 million in neighborhood water, sewer and stormwater upgrades taking place throughout the city this year demonstrates our ongoing commitment to being the very best."
In the past 15 years, investments of more than $70 million have occurred throughout the city to strengthen drainage and protect properties.
Construction of the Blackhawk development began in the late 1950s-early 1960s. Like several subdivisions, it was built in a different era with different thoughts on handling stormwater and drainage. Tackling Blackhawk's challenges required installing necessary infrastructure in places it did not exist.
The recent completion of Phase 3 includes 2,230 feet of larger-diameter stormwater pipes and 20 inlet structures, the replacement of larger pipes up to 48 inches in diameter and adding swales and pipe extensions to reduce standing water and flooding. A right-turn lane on Lahmeyer Road to enhance traffic flow was added as part of the restoration.
Phase 1, constructed in 2016, added a 36-inch diameter pipe and 13 inlets that previously had not existed. This work was done at the same time the Public Works Division installed new concrete streets, promoting efficiencies and cooperation.
Phase 2 connected that work to a 36-inch diameter pipe connected to a 60-inch diameter pipe with the Maplecrest Road expansion, creating an additional pathway for stormwater to rapidly exit the neighborhood. That project comprised more than 5,000 feet of stormwater pipe.
All phases of the work were challenging. For residents, it meant the inconvenience of limited driveway access, construction upheaval in backyards, and at times, relocation of the pickup locations for garbage and recycling carts.
During Phase 3, there was the extra demand of maintaining traffic at Lahmeyer and East State Boulevard during the school year. With three schools near the intersection, the collaboration with school officials and all residents became essential components to the project's success.
"Over the past 15 years, City Utilities has actively engaged with neighborhoods and residents to identify stormwater improvement projects," said Matthew Wirtz, Deputy Director of Engineering. "We've made hundreds of drainage improvements from those discussions, including more than 60 major, multi-year projects. We see each project as a pledge made to our residents, one we are proud to fulfill. On into the future, these collaborations will continue to safeguard homes and strengthen neighborhoods."
Restoration of Phase 3 will continue for a few weeks, but residents have already noticed a positive difference during the heavy rains this summer.
Crosby Excavating Inc. was the contractor on Phase 3.