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DNR fund aids town, creates class project

Tuesday, September 9, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:54 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Columbia Street in Rocheport is slowly caving in and breaking apart, but a stormwater grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources should soon change that.

Rocheport is one of 74 communities to benefit from $10 million in grants awarded last week by the DNR.

About four years ago, residents of the riverside town noticed the street, which runs close to Moniteau Creek, was beginning to break up. Gayla Neumeyer, a member of the Rocheport City Council, decided to look to MU as a resource for possible solutions.

“She suggested that she had an interesting project in Roche-port,” said John Bowders, professor of civil and environmental engineering. He decided to have his senior design class tackle the problem. In fall 2002, the class studied the site and worked in teams to come up with potential solutions.

“It helped the community become aware of what was happening here,” Neumeyer said. “It helped everyone in the area to conceptualize the problem.”

That problem was twofold. Flash-flooding and overflow from the creek had damaged the road, so both stormwater and street issues had to be addressed. The class worked in teams to brainstorm solutions for the stormwater problem, presenting their work to the council as if they were firms competing for the project.

“It’s been a lot of fun to see the ideas,” Neumeyer said. “There’s an innovative solution from the class that we’re getting pricing for as one possible solution.”

Based on an ocean-pier concept, that solution is being reviewed by the city and consultant Trabue, Hansen and Hinshaw.

A DNR grant of $31,976 will help pay for a new stormwater system along the road. The street is to be fixed with money from the city and its share of revenue from the Boone County road tax.

Rocheport isn’t the only mid-Missouri city to win a grant. Columbia won more than $230,000 that it will use for three projects: a stormwater detention basin for Merideth Branch creek in the southwest part of the city, storm-sewer upgrades along West Boulevard and Marygene Street, and similar upgrades along Hardin Street, Mikel Street and Donnelly Avenue. The last project is already done.

“Merideth Branch definitely has bad flooding problems,” said Tom Wellman, a civil engineer for the city. “The basin will help a lot.”

Boone County received more than $65,000 for three drainage projects in the northern part of the county; Centralia won $44,000 to replace ditches with storm-sewer mains.

While area officials are thankful for the money, they say the struggling economy will prevent additional grants for the time being.

“We understand that until the economy recovers, they won’t be selling any more bonds,” said Joy Reven, project coordinator for DNR.

David Nichols, manager of design and construction for Boone County, hopes the program will resume.

“It’s unfortunate because it’s enabled us to do that many more projects because of the matching money,” Nichols said. “We’ve used this program for the last four to five years.”

Construction on the projects is expected to begin between late spring and late fall of 2004.


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