Flooding would be reduced in the area around Crossroads Mall and traffic would move more efficiently under a preliminary improvement plan introduced to the public Tuesday evening.
Work on the plan, which is part of the East Region Storm Sewer Project in Fort Dodge, would begin this spring with the burial of overhead power lines along First Avenue South between Veterans Bridge and 29th Street.
Some storm sewer work could start this fall, according Wade Greiman, a project manager with Snyder & Associates of Ankeny. That company prepared the plans for the project.
Wade Greiman, with Snyder and Associates, talks about a specific section of the East Region Storm Sewer Project Tuesday afternoon during a public information meeting at the Crossroads Mall.
Greiman said street improvements will begin in 2014 or 2015.
He presented the plans to owners and managers of businesses in the area during a Tuesday evening meeting in Crossroads Mall.
Greiman said all the plans he displayed Tuesday are preliminary and subject to change.
He estimated it would cost $10 million to $11 million to do all of the work. He said $8 million to $9 million has been secured, leaving a funding gap of $1.5 million to $2 million.
Streets around the mall have been covered with water following every major rainstorm for decades. Councilman Dean Hill said Tuesday that the area has been a problem spot for 20 years or more.
''This is a project I've been excited about for a long time and supported all the way,'' he said.
Cary Kemna, the dealer at Kemna Auto Fort Dodge, 10 S. 25th St., said during the meeting that he supports the project and added that he would consider donating some needed land to the city to complete it.
The lot at Kemna Auto Fort Dodge has flooded repeatedly and in some cases, vehicles were ruined by high water.
The power line work will be the first step in the project. In October 2012, the City Council directed MidAmerican Energy to bury the wires and recover its costs via a charge added to its customers' bills.
The cost of burying those lines has been estimated at $1.4 million. Paying that off will cost the average residential electrical customer in Fort Dodge $4 a month.
The storm sewer work will start in the fall after the power lines are down, according to Greiman. Because the plans are still being refined, he could not say which specific storm sewer project would be started first.
The plans unveiled Tuesday envision the potential for three ponds that would store rain water that pours off streets and parking lots and into the storm sewers. One of those ponds would be near the east end of the Veterans Bridge near Hiway Truck Equipment. Another one would be south of CS Bank on North 29th Street. The third would be east of Hobby Lobby, 301 S. 29th St.
Greiman said engineers are still trying to determine if the ponds will be needed.
A new 42-inch diameter storm sewer under South 25th Street is among the other proposed drainage improvements.
New right-turn lanes would be created where First Avenue South intersects with 25th and 29th streets. Greiman said those turning lanes will reduce traffic backups and enable more vehicles to get through the intersections when the traffic signal is green.
South 25th Street, which is now four-lanes wide between First and Fifth avenues south, would be reduced to three lanes.The revamped street would consist of a northbound lane, a southbound lane and a center turning lane. Greiman said the three lanes will handle the volume of traffic just as well as the current four lanes.
He said access to all businesses will be maintained while the construction is under way.