In a major joint project — and armed with $438,000 in grant dollars — the city and Vincennes Water Utilities hope to find a permanent fix to recurrent storm water drainage issues that cause flooding along Forbes Road near Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.

The city’s Utilities Service Board bumped up their meeting from its usual Wednesday of this week to Monday afternoon in an effort to expedite the process and meet deadlines set by the state’s Community Crossings Matching Grant program.

The city during this latest round was awarded more than $400,000 for work on Forbes Road between McKinley Avenue and McDowell Road, specifically improving storm water drainage and pouring new asphalt.

But the USB, in an effort to do as much repair work as possible in that area, directed the city to seek bids on not just Forbes Road but also on improving storm water drainage along three side streets — McKinley Avenue, Margaret Drive and Ridgeway Avenue.

“And I’m pleasantly surprised that the alternate bids came in as low as they did,” Kirk Bouchie, the utility’s general manager, told members of the USB during their meeting Monday. “No one likes to have an incomplete project, or even a Phase II to a project, when you’re trying to solve the problems we have up there.

“So my recommendation is to fund the entire project.”

USB members agreed and will spend $660,964 on the $1.26 million project.

Armed with a blessing from the USB, the city’s Board of Works on Monday awarded that contract to low bidder Wabash Utilities, 423 E. Broad Road.

The board two weeks ago received that bid and one slightly higher from Kerns Excavating, Bruceville, for a total of $1.27 million.

Per the grant, a contract had to be awarded by Feb. 24.

“But it’s OK because we want to get this done this summer anyway,” Bouchie said. “We’re really proceeding quite well through this process.

“The timing will really never be better to get this done and behind us,” he said.

That area has been one of concern for years.

The problems were exacerbated a year ago when the city saw a record rain event — 4 inches fell in as many hours.

Residents of the area later went before city council members pleading for help with flooding.

After that rain event, the utility hired RQAW, a Carmel-based engineering firm, to begin conducting a feasibility study, which is how they honed in on doing the three side roads as well to better drain water from the entire area.

“This has been a big issue for a long time,” Bouchie said. “It’s flat and the soil conditions aren’t great for absorption. And with the new Franklin school being built up there, I think this will be a nice project to have done — hopefully — when that reopens in August.”

USB president Mike Sievers encouraged his fellow USB members to vote in favor of doing the entire proposed project.

“I went out and drove that whole area with Kirk,” he said. “The storm water situation out there is dire, and this needs to be done.”

The city, too, is putting up about $36,500 in matching funds.

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