JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - It rained a couple of inches in downtown Johnson City over the last few days.
In the past, that probably would've triggered flooding, but a new project undertaken by the city has helped reduce the frequency of flooding.
According to city engineers and planners, this project is actually changing the behavior of flood waters in the downtown area. It just may be the first step in drying up a lot of sweat and tears in Johnson City.
"It's doing its job," said Public Works Director Phil Pindzola about the new Founder's Park Brush Creek flooding alleviation project.
"These are fairly small rain events," Pindzola said of the rains on Wednesday and Thursday. "No one should be under the illusion that this park in and of itself is going to eliminate flooding downtown, but it has reduced the frequency of flooding."
Pindzola tells us by opening up box culverts and eliminating right angles and drops, they've actually changed the way the water behaves; it doesn't back up into the streets as much.. "By opening up this entire five-acre tract, we now have a way of getting the water back off the streets and back into the creek where it belongs," he said.
Down the street at Campbell's Morrell Music, flood water used to go where it didn't belong, like a broken record, over and over. "[We'd have] about a foot of water outside flowing like a river," said owner David Campbell.
But now, it's a happier tune here, thanks in part to the Founder's Park project. "I do believe it's helping. It's been a couple of years since we flooded, but we still sand bag and prepare just in case it does," Campbell said. "But so far, so good."
Pindzola says things are flowing in the right direction, but he emphasizes this project is the first element of a master plan to alleviate downtown flooding. "We're excited about where we are today in just what's occurred in the last year. We think that that momentum will continue for the next few years," he said.
The City of Johnson City recently completed purchase of the U-Haul property downtown. Pindzola says that's expected to open up even more green space for further work on this flooding alleviation project.
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