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Popenoe Run project, flood study expected to mitigate Morgantown flooding concerns

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A proposed joint effort is ready to tackle flooding concerns in the Suncrest area of Morgantown.

MUB Senior Engineer Ken Hacker said the first step is to address the Popenoe Run area.

During the summer of 2021 residents in the Popenoe Run area experienced serious flooding during two historic rain events. During the June 13 event some residents reported more than four inches of rain in a matter of three hours and others reported even more. Again July 29 heavy rains returned causing flood levels on Patteson Drive that were estimated to be four and a half feet deep.

Hacker said there’s a plan in place to fund improvements.

“We are working toward an agreement to get $1 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from the city of Morgantown, $1 million of ARPA funds from the county commission,” Hacker said. “MUB will be on the hook for any cost above $2 million.”

Popenoe Run improvements include work in the area between Willowdale Drive and Stewart Street. A portion of the scope includes replacing aged clay pipe with PVC pipe that will have greater capacity. The project will also properly connect and cover lateral lines that are damaged during heavy rain events.

“We are going to restore the stream, stabilize the stream banks and get it back to a shape that will handle anticipated flows in that area,” Hacker said.

The Popenoe Run project has been in the design phase for several months at a cost of about $400,000 paid for by MUB. A large portion of the project design is the permits that are required for a construction project in a stream or floodplain.

“It looks like the stream design is going to take a little bit longer than we thought,” Hacker said. “We still have to go through the process of getting the blessing from the Army Corps of Engineers and the West Virginia DEP.”

Hacker said MUB has also paid Strand Associates, Inc., $40,000 for a comparative infrastructure study of Popenoe Run and the surrounding areas.

“We’re evaluating the damages that happened during those events against what the existing system is,” Hacker said. “And providing us some recommendations or guidelines that will help reduce that.”

Once the Phase I results of the Strand Associates, Inc. study are available Hacker believes they’ll have a list of suggested improvements that be developed into projects. Much like the partnership for Popenoe Run, these projects would also be combined efforts.

“We’re also looking at Phase II of that project and trying to get stakeholders throughout the community involved in that and come up with a master plan to alleviate flooding.”

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