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If you frequently drive down Campus Drive SE in Rochester, there’s a good chance you’ve seen and even experienced the flooding issues that occur in front of Olmsted County’s 2100 building during significant rain events.
“This has been an issue for both employees and clients for about 20 years,” said Mathew Miller, Director of Facilities and Building Operations. “Technically, on the south side of the 2100 building, there is one catch basin; one location that takes all the water from essentially one-third of our campus, and that one pipe is only about eight inches. The storm water pipe in that section is just too small; so, when we get a lot of rain, it floods. Sometimes it gets so bad that we’ve had people with water on the floors of their vehicles.”
With the upcoming reconstruction of County Road 9 beginning in May 2020, the County wanted to be opportunistic and get ahead of that by fixing the Campus Drive flooding problem first.
“If we waited, we’d have to tear up County Road 9 or redo a section of it, so it makes sense to finish our Campus Storm Water Project beforehand,” said Miller. “We have the same engineering firm designing both projects, so our campus storm water runoff project will complement what they’re doing for County Road 9 runoff.”
The Campus Storm Water Project is scheduled to begin on August 26, 2019 and is being completed in phases.
The stretch of land impacted by this project goes from the 2117 building to the bus shelter on the West side of the 2100 building. However, most of the work will occur in front of 2100. As part of this work, a new sidewalk will be installed on the affected stretch of land which will enable better pedestrian access for both County employees and residents.
“Residents will be affected,” explained Miller. “That stretch of road will be closed. There will be contractors there and construction happening. It will create a short-term parking inconvenience because people do park on the street and in that east parking lot.”
Miller said there is available parking at all other Olmsted County Government Campus buildings and these parking stalls are generally first-come, first-served.
To prepare for the work scheduled to begin August 26, trees were removed along Campus Drive SE. This was done to clear space to develop a “swale” or a “rain garden,” which as Miller explains, is essentially a depression that holds water. This water will ultimately travel through storm pipes underneath Collegeview Drive, through the soccer complex, and eventually run off into a lake across the road.
“Physically digging the rain gardens required those trees to come out on both the East side and South side of 2100,” Miller explained.
While hard to see the trees go, Miller noted that the wood will be harvested from the trees and will either be used as part of the new nature center planned for Oxbow Park or the wood will be sold and used to purchase hardwoods for the nature center.
Because there are proposals for additional parking and buildings on the Olmsted County campus, there are no immediate plans to replant more trees now.
“We don’t want to plant any trees now that would need to be removed as part of these other upcoming construction efforts,” stated Miller. “However, our long-term goal is that once these construction projects around campus are completed, we will plant some more.”
The Campus Storm Water Project is an initiative that will ultimately create a better situation for all employees, clients, and people who drive and walk along Campus Drive SE.
“This project controls the longstanding flooding issue, provides for improved pedestrian access on Campus Drive SE, prepares us for the County Road 9 reconstruction, and helps us as we plan and prepare for other upcoming construction efforts on our County campus property,” noted Miller.