Dec 12, 2016

University of Kentucky FEMA Flood Mitigation Project

The Wolf Creek Watershed on the University of Kentucky campus was overwhelmed by increased storm water runoff after years of development. A nearby highway often was overtopped during major storm events, posing a traffic hazard.

With a Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant, the institution hired Bell Eng. to develop a plan to reduce flooding, detain water for reintroduction to the watershed and improve water quality. Doing so required coordination between a family housing unit, a childcare center and the university’s football stadium, which was undergoing renovations.

“We knew from the conceptualization of the project that having all parties involved throughout the design and construction would be crucial to the project’s success,” said Keith Ingram, project manager for UK Capital Project Management Group.

To ensure the project went smoothly, all parties held monthly meetings where they were given updates and had questions answered. The meetings gave stakeholders agency over the process and helped them understand their neighbors’ circumstances.

The project aimed to reduce the peak flow for the 100-year flood event by 44%, which was a challenge given the limited surface area for detention. In total, six detention basins hold 8.3 acre-ft of detained water, which increased detention from 14.9 to 21.7 acre-ft in the project area.

“One of the stipulations of the grant was that paved parking areas could only be constructed to replace paved areas being removed by construction of new surface collection basins,” Ingram said. The team had to relocate and build an addition to the existing 900-space parking lot adjacent to the stadium.

“The combined lots accommodated [more than] 1,200 parking spaces and approximately 5 acre-ft of underground detention,” said Robert L. Pickerill, project manager for Bell Eng.

Project Year:
Contractor: Bluegrass Contracting
Designers: Bell Eng.
Owner: University of Kentucky
Location: Lexington, Ky.
Cost: $6 million
Size: 240 acres