Long before Hurricane Matthew deluged the City of Lumberton in the fall of 2016, residents of the Tanglewood neighborhood had raised concerns about flooding after heavy rainfall. More impervious surfaces and more frequent storms put residents at greater risk as well as threatened to disrupt more than 1,800 employees from getting to work at the UNC Health Southeastern Medical Center.
In the wake of Matthew, the City secured a $3 million grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation and contracted with Wooten to survey and assess the existing stormwater infrastructure, conduct preliminary engineering, and make recommendations. Engineers advised a more substantial project than initially anticipated: replacing more than 6,700 feet of storm sewer lines with new 15” to 96” pipe.
Based on the report’s analysis and findings, the City further pursued a $6.8 million federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency – just as the pandemic began to wreak havoc on everything including the global supply chain.
Any time you’re tackling a consequential project of any scale, challenges are sure to come up. The question we always ask is: ‘How can we work together to navigate this as effectively as possible?’ Between the City and the contractor, I think we succeeded here.
— Eric Olsen, PE, Wooten Construction Administrator
With most of the work being done in the roadway, the City’s public works department provided essential project support including complete repaving of affected streets. The City also supplied bypass pumping, managed temporary water and sewer service in the construction zone, and was instrumental in engaging with residents to inform their expectations during the project.
The project not only solves the flash flooding problem around the hospital, but offers relief for the entire neighborhood well beyond the actual project route. Thanks to teamwork between the project engineer, contractor and public works we were able to overcome numerous challenges and accomplish the mission.
— Rob Armstrong, Lumberton Public Works Director
Impacts were severe when Tanglewood flooded before. The well-established neighborhood has dense development including an elementary school and the Biggs Park Mall. The project team was also mindful that the hospital cares for more than 73,000 patients annually. The hospital staff accommodated by proactively rerouting vehicles as work was being completed.
On 29th Street, it would flood right where the ambulances come in, and they would have to crawl through to get to the ambulance dock. The idea is when we have heavy rain, now cars won’t have water right up to their underbelly anymore and patients can get to the clinic.
— Karen Kay, UNC Health Southeastern Facility Services Manager
Lumberton is in Robeson County, among the most economically distressed counties in North Carolina. It was founded in 1787 by John Willis, an officer in the American Revolution. More than 200 years later, stormwater improvements place the City on more solid ground for economic development and to promote community quality of life.