Ephraim Considers Expanding Stormwater Project

A special committee tasked with solving Ephraim’s stormwater and flooding problems hopes contracted engineers can develop a plan for nearly a majority of the village, with emphasis on Hwy 42, with a Nov. 1 deadline set by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The deadline imposed by the DOT is for a financial commitment by the village for any project costs beyond the scope of a basic highway resurface, including stormwater management. The village developed a subcommittee to explore contracting an engineer who will develop plans to deliver to the DOT.

The village currently has a contract in place with Baudhuin Engineering for the portion of the village between Cherry Street and German Road for $2,500. Committee members hope to expand the scope of that plan to include most village roads between the wetlands near the southern end of the village to Anderson dock and up the bluff along County Q and German Road.

“[Engineers] can’t plan for something at the bottom of the hill without knowing what’s happening at the top of the hill,” said committee member John Cox, advocating for a more expansive engineering study than just Hwy 42.

Cindy Nelson, member of both the committee and village board, expressed concern that expanding the project would stress the Nov. 1 deadline. Nelson suggested contracting an engineer for three tiers of the project: Hwy 42, problems roads such as German and County Q, and the portion of the village on top of the bluff, where much of the stormwater originates from.

Cox and another committee member, Fred Bridenhagen, said the engineering study would best be done at once.

“I have a suspicion… if we contract with a firm as regarded as Baudhuin or McMahon, that the DOT is going to work with us and they might bend on that time [deadline],” said Cox. “If they see goodwill on our part.”

In a June interview, Jeremy Ashauer, DOT Project Manager, said the Nov. 1 deadline will not bend.

“That’s really a hard date and we don’t have any flexibility with that date,” said Ashauer.

Prior to the meeting, committee members individually surveyed the stromwater culverts and drains, hoping the preliminary work will decrease the amount of public input the engineers need to collect, and thus the cost.

The village board has previously expressed consensus that stormwater is a high priority in the resurfacing plans, which are slated to start in the fall of 2018. The DOT will commit funds for a basic resurface and replacement of two culverts.

Jim Stollenwerk, chairman of the stormwater committee and village board member, said the DOT may commit more funds for culvert replacement if the village can prove the stormwater problem is primarily due to the highway, which is state property.

“The state is willing to listen to us if we have more [culverts] and they feel it’s in their jurisdiction to replace them, but they have to know where they are,” said Stollenwerk.

The village is fast-tracking the process, with a village board meeting to consider stormwater plans on Aug. 23 after Pulse press time and another committee meeting on Aug. 28. Any recommendations for increasing the scope of the project will go through the village’s Physical Facilities Committee and then on to the village board.

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