A long delayed flood control tunnel for East Dallas won unanimous construction approval from City Council Members Wednesday after years of delay and controversy.
“It’s been something I kind of gave up on,” said neighbor Mike Rhone. “I just figured it was not going to happen.”
Rhone is sheet metal shop supervisor at City Wide Mechanical, a heating and air conditioning firm that was flooded in a severe March 2006 rain event.
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“This whole area flooded,” he said. “It ran about six inches of water through the building.”
Cars submerged around the Baylor Medical Center that day. The emergency room was an island. Homes in the area received water. Many other floods over the years have caused extensive damage.
Damaging floods have also been recorded in the area in 1995, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2017.
The five mile tunnel to drain the area will be bored 30 feet wide, 70 to 100 feet below the ground, running from near Woodall Rodgers Freeway to White Rock Creek near Scyene Road.
It will provide flood relief for Uptown and the drainage areas of Mill Creek, Peaks Branch and East Peaks Branch. Portions of the creeks were paved over years ago, before rules forbid such development.
Most of the $206 million cost comes from a 2012 bond referendum, money that was approved by voters six years ago. A portion comes from 2006 bond money.
“I’m glad to see it happening. I just think it should have happened long before now,” Rhone said.
Initial delays were for land acquisition and design work. Then the City Auditor questioned aspects of the first round of bidding and the initial contract submitted to the Dallas City Council. A man involved in a past Dallas Corruption scandal was a subcontractor on the initial deal.
A second round of bidding resulted in a slightly lower price from the same primary drillling contractor.
“I’m glad we have a process in place were we look at these large procurements through the auditor’s office,” Council Member Sandy Greyson said. “I’m just glad that we got this squared away. We got lucky and it came in a few million dollars less.”
Councilman Philip Kingston had a different review.
“This corrects one of the worst run procurements that’s ever been done here at the City of Dallas,” Kingston said.
Construction will still require five more years before flood protection is in place for the affected areas.
“We could have potentially another flood and all that damage again,” Rhone said.
City officials expect minimal disturbance to surface properties during construction.