City public works staff and engineers are looking to resurrect years worth of stalled plans to counter flooding in the West Quincy section hardest hit by last week’s rainstorm.
The city’s public works and engineering staffs are dusting off years’ worth of plans that never went anywhere as they seek a permanent solution to the repeat flooding that has plagued residents in a West Quincy neighborhood that was inundated again by last week’s deluge.
People who live in the flood-prone area have been unwilling to go along with some of the plans, and finding the money to carry out the plans has been a major stumbling block.
Mayor Thomas Koch said the hope is to propose a drainage improvement program for the area in time for an April 27 meeting with residents.
“All of the plans that have been on the shelves, we’re pulling out again,” Koch said. “We’re going to take a new look at all those plans to see if there is a new way to do it, a different way to do it.”
Last weekend’s flooding brought new urgency to questions of how rainwater drains through the neighborhood. The flooding caused scores of residents to abandon their homes and lose everything from personal effects to cars and washing machines.
Koch said the city also plans by April 27 to have a full accounting of what factors, beyond mother nature, contributed to last week’s flooding. State engineers and transportation officials are expected to attend the meeting, which will be held at the Sons of Italy Hall on Quarry Street.
“We’ll start with what we view as what happened, all the contributing factors,” Koch said.
Several plans have been proposed over the years to improve drainage in the area, a marshy lowland where single-family homes were built in the 1950s.
A particular focus has been a plan by what was the Massachusetts Highway Department, an agency that is now part of today’s state Department of Transportation. That plan called for buying out some 16 homeowners on Ballou and Sheldon streets in order to build a retention pond and drainage ditch there.
The roughly $8 million plan, proposed in 2001, hit a snag when some residents in the neighborhood declined to sell, officials said.
“All neighbors had to agree,” said State Sen. Michael Morrissey of Quincy, who was involved in the discussions. “One or two held out.”
The proposal originated as a plan to install a series of culverts parallel to Cunningham Brook and Furnace Brook to channel rainwater flow, as well as the dredging of some parts of the channel to create more capacity for floodwater.
Morrissey said the state turned away from that plan as its potential costs grew from $18 million to up to $30 million. The project grew in scope, ultimately requiring different degrees of work from the Milton line to the Atlantic Ocean, Morrissey said.
“You have to be reasonable,” he said.
Adam Hurtubise, a spokesman for the state transportation department, said the agency is constantly looking for ways to improve its drainage systems.
“We’ve discussed a number of plans to improve drainage in Quincy, and we are willing to work cooperatively with the City of Quincy to revisit some of those plans,” he said.
The key is finding money to pay for the work. The ongoing effort to seek a federal “disaster area” declaration from President Barack Obama could provide a small financial boost.
If the state receives the declaration, the federal government would add 15 percent of the total flood-related damage costs and grant it to the state to pay for flood mitigation projects, said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
The federal government “wants to get rid of these repetitive (flooding) issues as well. That’s why they make those dollars available,” Judge said.
Federal money for mitigation projects would be distributed project-by-project throughout the state.
While a tally of flood damage to individual homes in Quincy won’t be known for some time, the city estimates it has incurred $6 million in damages to infrastructure and other costs as a result of the storm.
Patriot Ledger writer Jack Encarnacao may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View Quincy flooding in a larger map