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Drain system downtown gets needed overhaul

After several years of increased rain and flood issues, Washington Avenue and Lauderdale Street in downtown Russellville are undergoing road work and drainage upgrades in hopes of solving these issues.

Russellville City Councilman and Franklin County Engineer David Palmer brought up the issue with the area behind First Baptist Church at a city council meeting in February, at which time the project was unanimously approved.

“Rain and flooding have always been an issue in a lot of places, and as we are investigating that issue, we have been trying to tackle the problems as they come along,” Palmer said.

Washington Avenue and Lauderdale Street around First Baptist Church are currently blocked off because of construction.

Palmer said heavy rain over the past few years has revealed problems with the drainage system at the First Baptist Church location and other areas across town.

Russellville Mayor David Grissom agreed increased rain levels have revealed issues with flooding across the city that need fixing.

“We are working hard to address these issues,” Grissom said. “Normally we don’t have rain like we have had over the past few weeks and even over the past few years. A lot of our drainage systems are struggling with this large amount of rain water. We are working to address these issues when we come to them.”

Palmer said it is not unusual for flooding to occur on the street, but increased rain levels have caused flooding in First Baptist Church to occur more frequently.

“We found out the storm drains there just aren’t big enough to handle all of the runoff,” Palmer said.

Workers first blocked off the area around the church about three weeks ago as the current drain system is split to better accommodate a larger amount of rain water. Additional storm drains are being installed, and the current system is being split to route the water in two different areas.

Palmer said the majority of work is taking place on Lauderdale Street, with a 30-inch diameter storm drain being installed and junction boxes and inlets being built, and a larger inlet is being built on the corner of Washington Avenue.

Palmer said he estimates the majority of construction to fix the flooding issue will be completed in the next two to three weeks.

Once the flooding issues have been resolved, a small section of the road on Washington Avenue will need to be patched, and the portion of Lauderdale Street where construction occurred will be re-paved.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience with us as we work on this,” Palmer said. “We know especially with having a project like this going in downtown, it can really interrupt traffic and some people’s day-to-day lives.”