BCS Management has worked with Walden Environmental on a number of storm water and sanitary sewer projects. During a weekly meeting we thought it would be great to learn more about the positive impact that Walden Environmental has on local Fort Wayne neighborhoods.
We interviewed Tom Gountras of the Walden Fort Wayne office to learn more about a drainage engineering study he is working on in the Lincolndale Drive area of Fort Wayne, IN. The study is being completed based on the need for storm drainage improvements at numerous locations and streets around Lincolndale Drive. Tom has more than 40 years of experience in civil engineering, with an expertise in investigating and resolving neighborhood drainage complaints and safety issues. We were excited to learn more about why these projects are selected, how he approaches them and how they are prioritized.
About The Area
Q: Tom, tell us about the project area.
A: The Lincolndale Drive area is located in the northwest part of Fort Wayne, and totals approximately 320 acres. It consists of 165 acres of industrial area, 60 acres of commercial area; and, 95 acres of residential area. The area’s drainage sheds into the Lincolndale Drive drain which is an Allen County regulated drain under the jurisdiction of Allen County’s Drainage Board. This area of Fort Wayne started to develop decades ago but now is well within the urbanized area of the City.
Q: Why was this area selected?
A: There are needs for storm drainage improvements at numerous locations of Lincolndale Drive and nearby streets that will require:
- The extension of new storm sewers
- Replacement of some existing failing or undersized storm sewers
- Improvement of capacities of a couple of regional detention ponds within the area
- Regrading and improvement of portion of Lincolndale drain
- Other minor drainage improvements.
Q: Why was the project prioritized?
A: Based on the overall projected cost, the project was divided into ten construction phases throughout the study area so that phases could be implemented over multiple budget years. The phases were prioritized based on the urgency for improvements at each of the ten locations. Additionally, sometimes the constructability of one improvement required a prerequisite phase to be completed prior to the construction of the other improvements.
Q: What were your first steps?
A: At the beginning of our study work, I spend time hand drawing existing features, infrastructure components, and other characteristics on large format GIS and parcel maps of the entire area. This information comes from our field work, other inspections, time with neighbors and Home Owner Associations and the databases of customer complaints. This provides us a much more thorough picture than just survey work and pictures alone. In order to best plan for the solutions, we need to immerse ourselves in the problems and the experiences of the residents who live in the area. Only then can we start to use these same hand drawn maps to sketch layouts of several solution scenarios.
Q: What are the special or unique challenges in the area?
A: Since Lincolndale Drive drain is a county regulated drain, the City of Fort Wayne is obligated to be in compliance with planning and construction requirements and permit approvals of Allen County’s Drainage Board. Acquisition of permanent and temporary easements and purchases of private properties will be required for the construction and future maintenance of the proposed drainage improvements. Traffic control and road closures requirements during construction of the project will be a great challenge. Erosion and sedimentation control will be another challenge during construction.
Q: What is the timeline for this project?
A: The City is working to begin the construction of the first phases of construction yet this year. It will take several years of work to complete all of the improvements in this area.
The Benefits of this Environmental Study
Tom’s role in this project is crucial. Projects such as drainage improvements, come with significant challenges that aren’t immediately apparent to neighborhood residents. Anticipating construction close to home, increased daily traffic in zones during construction are the realities that residents would have to deal with during a project. Walden Fort Wayne helps neighborhoods anticipate these changes and determines what needs to be done to minimize the area disturbance with erosion and sedimentation control.