Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some of your questions regarding the 56th & Morton Drainage Improvement Project.

 
 

+ Will this project remove properties from the floodplain?

This project will provide flood risk reduction benefits for properties adjacent to the channel by improving the channel capacity to reduce water levels during storm events. However, the project will not remove any properties from the current Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain map. The current floodplain map developed by FEMA is largely due to backwater flooding from Salt Creek and will not be affected by this project. The current FEMA floodplain also doesn’t extend south past Fletcher Avenue and is primarily within the drainage channel.


+ What are the exact improvements that you are going to make for drainage (tree removal and what else)?

This project will widen portions of the channel, replace the box culvert (bridge) at Fletcher Avenue, add in access points for maintenance, and rehabilitate portions to prevent future erosion. A private bridge within the channel will be removed and an access road established on the east side of the channel, north of Fletcher Avenue, to provide access to the affected property. Additional work will include resurfacing Fletcher Avenue between N 56th and N 70th streets.


+ How will long-term maintenance be handled in the channel?

The improvements to the channel will enable it to maintained safely with current city equipment. Mowing and other maintenance work within the channel is planned to occur at least once per year.


+ Why did the drainage area become overgrown with trees and filled with debris?

The existing banks of most of this drainage area were too steep for routine maintenance. Some property owners and tenants also placed obstructions within the easement, which made access unavailable, impractical or unsafe.


+ If the city simply removed all the trees and debris from the channel, would that eliminate flooding?

No. Simply removing the trees and debris would not provide a significant benefit to reduce flood risks. Tree and debris removal would only be a short term improvement. The improvement project creates a comprehensive approach for long term reduction of flood risks.


+ How many alternatives were considered in reaching this preliminary design?

A study of the area conducted in 2012 considered up to seven alternatives that showed the potential for some flood risk reduction and safety improvements. Several more alternatives were examined that provided no actual flood risk reduction.


+ Would it be more cost-effective for the city to buy the properties that flood and level the buildings in those parcels?

This could be an option, but also be cost prohibitive for the completion of the entire project. The majority of the funding for this project is from federal funding, which requires a favorable cost/benefit ratio. Also, simply buying a couple of properties and removing the buildings will not reduce flooding or improve the safety of the area.


+ Will the city remove buildings or force owners to reduce portions of their buildings built into the easement?

One unoccupied storage structure is planned for removal; otherwise, it is not anticipated that additional buildings will need to be removed or altered. There are several areas where fencing and pavement will be removed in order to restore the channel. There are some temporary type structures in the easement areas will need to be removed by the owner/tenant for the project. The project is removing one loading dock in the permanent easement area.


+ Why would the city require the removal of paved areas, but not also require the removal or remodeling of buildings within or abutting the stormwater easement?

There is only one building that is just within the stormwater easement among the 29 properties that adjoin the drainage channel. The city desires to treat all properties fairly and take a common sense approach with respect to improving the channel and safety for the area.


+ How could the city have allowed property owners to build their buildings or have paved areas in the stormwater easement?

It is up to the property owner to ensure they do not build on any easements and any easements are supposed to be shown on submitted plans. The city does not systematically check easements as part of the building permit process unless they are shown on the plans. It is possible that some of the paved areas constructed in the easement were constructed without permits. Fences typically do not require permits. Bollards are being placed as part of the project along the permanent easement boundary at most property lines. No fences, structures, pavement, fill, etc. should be placed within the existing and recently acquired permanent easement areas.


+ My property has experienced little to no flooding. Will this project increase the risk of flooding on my property?

It is planned that flood depths will be reduced anywhere from two to four feet throughout the channel in the project area. North of Holland Road, the existing channel has adequate capacity. Flood depths and flood risk will not be increased for any properties.


+ How will this project affect the flooding I have seen on N. 56th Frontage Road or N. 57th Circle?

By increasing the capacity of the channel, these street drainage elements will be allowed to function much better during minor storm events. Flood depths will also be decreased two to four feet in the channel itself, which will help reduce the frequency of water overtopping the channel banks.


+ How much is this project going to cost and how will it be paid for?

The bid for construction was $3.7 million. The project received Hazard Mitigation Grant (HMG) funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for 75% of the project. The City of Lincoln and Lower Platte South NRD are cost-sharing the remaining 25% of the project, with the city’s funds coming from the 2016 stormwater bond.


+ Will there be any restrictions on our land once this project is complete?

The same easement requirements that are in place now will remain in effect once the project is completed. The city is allowed and permitted to conduct whatever work they deem necessary to maintain the drainage easement. The city requires that property owners do not place any improvements on any easement at the risk of incurring the personal expense of removing such improvements that impede or prevent future maintenance.


+ Can this drainage channel be piped?

No. The waterway needs to remain as an open channel to provide adequate flow capacity.


+ What is the process for the city to gain temporary or permanent easements?

The need for any new easements will be negotiated with property owners by the City Real Estate Department.


+ How will I access my business during the replacement of the Fletcher box culvert?

Access to all properties will be maintained throughout project construction. A detour route will likely be from the east off of 70th Street for the properties on the east side of the channel. For properties on the west side of the channel, access to the frontage roads and driveways will be maintained.


+ Why are the easements north of Fletcher Avenue so varied in width?

The original easements found for the project area are from 1956. Some surveys since that time have interpreted the easements differently. However, these easements were never formalized to the extent of being recognized as recorded permanent easements. As such, a formal title search in 2016 determined the existing permanent easements for this project, and the easements shown on project materials are consistent with the register of deeds.