Dr. Traffic

Traffic may be slow at McDowell and Morehead but at least it’s not under water

Flooding remains a concern along Little Sugar Creek Greenway during heavy rain, including here at S. Kings Drive in Midtown. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services has two projects in the pipeline to help reduce risks to homes and on roads.
Flooding remains a concern along Little Sugar Creek Greenway during heavy rain, including here at S. Kings Drive in Midtown. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services has two projects in the pipeline to help reduce risks to homes and on roads. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

There’s a lot going on beneath our roads that we don’t have to think about – most of the time.

For example, we don’t see how much water is flowing down there during and after a rain storm. Keeping it out of sight beneath the streets means we don’t have to deal with so much water on the streets.

If you’ve lived in the area for a while, you might remember the property known as Midtown Square. Flooding around the mall was a major headache for years.

Roads and homes or other properties in that area sometimes got more water than they could handle during heavy rains.

Mecklenburg County Storm Water Services and other agencies cleared up most of the mess around the mall. Now Dilworth is a focus.

Storm Water Services is well into a $16.7 million project that is designed to upgrade the existing storm water system and reduce flood risk for roads, homes and other properties near Euclid, Templeton, Myrtle and Lexington avenues.

Problem is we’ve got major roads running through the work zone, including McDowell and Morehead streets. When you mess with the roads, you get a lot of unhappy people.

Traffic problems are most noticeable from 5-6 p.m., with outbound traffic from uptown often funneled to one lane, said Dave Palmere of Charlotte.

“The question is the length of time needed to complete a sewer line replacement under 100 yards of road ... apparently 1 year. Really?” Palmere wrote in an email.

Keeping all the water out of sight in this area is a big project, said Alyssa Dodd, a spokeswoman for Storm Water Services.

“The scope of the work from McDowell to Morehead (7.5-foot diameter concrete pipe 30 feet below the street surface) is very complicated and correct installation takes time,” she wrote in an email.

The work at McDowell and Morehead is part of the Myrtle/Morehead Storm Drainage Improvement Project. The drainage area is huge, covering about 230 acres. The work area runs from South Boulevard through Pearl Street Park on Kenilworth Avenue into Little Sugar Creek, the old flood zone at Midtown Square.

Construction and related road work started in October 2014. The massive pipes have been installed and crews have been working to finish repaving.

The second part of the project, which will cost $11.6 million, is scheduled to start summer 2017 and calls for installing 6.5- to 7.5-foot diameter pipes along Lexington Avenue from Oriole to Myrtle, under Myrtle to Templeton, and under Templeton to Euclid. The pipes will travel through the Strawn Tower apartments to Caldwell and up to South Boulevard. Other work also is planned.

The road work is certainly an inconvenience at times. But we all can agree that it’s better than having part of the city under water.

Karen Sullivan: kmsulliv@charlotteobserver.com, @Sullivan_kms

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