By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4) - Denver Public Works went underground in Globeville on Thursday, giving media a rare look at the beginning of a major flood mitigation project.
"We're building here for the 100-year-storm and this is an area of town that is most at risk for flooding," Nancy Kuhn, Communications Director for Denver Public Works, said.
The Globeville Landing Outfall Project (GLO) is the first of four projects under the city's $300 million Platte to Park Hill plan. It's one of the biggest developments in the history of the city's infrastructure.
"We are building the start of a system that we will hope to get further and further down by Alameda and Quebec," Kuhn said as she led members of the media into a large underground tunnel.
The system Kuhn is referring to is a 12x15 culvert she called an "engineering marvel." Those working closely with the project couldn't agree more.
"I mean, this is a legacy project," Patrick Riley, Program Construction Manager for Denver Public Works, said. "My grandkids will benefit from these systems and these things being in place so there's something deeply personally for me to be able to work on something that lends itself to a longevity like that."'
The Globeville project also offers a benefit to C-DOT's I-70 expansion project.
"So CDOT has its own system it's building for the interstate. This one is complimentary," Kuhn said, gesturing to the culvert. "We will improve drainage to I-70 because of this project but our goal was to serve a larger regional issue. Their job is to make sure the interstate doesn't flood. We have a different job we wanna do which is protect a much larger area of the city."
The entire area within the Platte to Park Hill Project has seen major flooding including the neighborhoods around the Globeville project.
"It floods really bad in through there," the owner of the Stop-n-Shop said as she pointed to the intersection of York and 46th. "So bad, there's been cars stuck in it and they've backed up the traffic all the way in through here and they'd have to find alternate routes."
After 35 years in Denver's Elyria Swansea neighborhood, the Stop-n-Shop Food Mart is moving to Lakewood. The flooding it won't miss. The neighborhood it will. Owners said the city purchased the property to make way for the I-70 expansion project.
The Globeville Landing Outfall project is expected to be complete by 2019 and will not only include the new culvert to channel stormwater to the South Platte, but a redesign of Globeville Landing Park. Public Works believes it will actually improve the quality of the river.
"Where the culvert ends is an open channel greenway that will provide more water quality opportunities before it enters the Platte," Kuhn said.
The channel itself includes an impermeable barrier to keep contaminated water from the ground from leaking into the stormwater. It also includes lush vegetation above ground to filter the water before entering the Platte.
While the project will not be completed until sometime in 2019, the culvert will have water flowing through it by summer of 2018.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn't imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.
for more features.