The city’s ongoing infrastructure improvement project in the central portion of Mitchell that's had a history of flooding issues is inching closer to the finish line.

With the dry summer weather Mitchell has experienced thus far, it’s helped crews complete 35% of the East Central Drainage project that’s been in motion since 2019. The $3.7 million project that’s taking place along East Hackberry Avenue and South Kimball Street near Klock Werks is designed to drastically improve the storm water drainage in the low-lying area, which was ravaged by the 2019 flood.

“The main purpose of the project is to address the history of flooding along that low-lying area with storm sewer and utility improvements,” said Public Works Director Joe Schroeder. “The biggest low-lying area that we’re improving drainage for is the intersection where Klock Werks and Patzer Woodworking are along Juniper and Langdon Street and Hackberry Avenue and Kimball Street. We don’t want to see those businesses in that area flood again, and this should help immensely.”

During the September 2019 flood that drenched Mitchell with over 7 inches of rainfall in a two-day span, the East Hackberry and Juniper avenues area suffered perhaps the most severe flooding, resulting in collapsed basements at residential homes and waterlogged businesses. While the low-lying area was hit hard, causing major damage to several of the businesses in the area, there had been a history of flooding woes prior to the record-breaking downpour.

In an attempt to alleviate future flooding, the city developed the East Central Drainage plan, which began prior to the 2019 flood. Considering Dry Run Creek is where the storm water drains to from the East Central Drainage project area, Schroeder noted the project won’t “take more water” to the creek. Rather, the improvements will help drain water to the creek “more efficiently.”

Newsletter signup for email alerts

As crews continue pushing forward on the project throughout the summer and into fall, Schroeder said the estimated September 2022 completion date of the whole project is a little ahead of schedule.

“If progress keeps going the way it has, I think it will be completed before that September 2022 completion date,” Schroeder said, noting he's impressed with Sioux Falls-based First Rate Excavate, the contractor that’s completing the ongoing second phase of the project.

The entire scope of the project includes bringing improvements to storm sewer, sanitary sewer, street surfacing and curbs and gutters. In total, the project encompasses a nine-block radius, primarily stretching from East Hackberry Avenue to South Lawler Street.

As part of the utility work, crews are also replacing vitrified clay pipe that serves as the water main for residents and businesses located within the East Central Drainage project scope.

“Their plan is to get all of the utilities done this year, which would put them ahead of schedule. Curb and gutter work is also lined up for the coming weeks,” Schroeder said. “We’re also improving the curb, gutter and asphalt along the way.”

During the city’s 2019 public meeting for the East Central Drainage project, Schroeder noted the area has been known to have some water quality issues, which he said will be addressed with the replacement of the old cast iron pipes that act as the water main.

While Schroeder said the improvements will help the drainage woes “immensely,” he noted a historic rain event like what Mitchell experienced in September 2019, could still cause come flooding in the area.

“There is always the caveat that there could be enough rain in such a short amount of time that it could flood again,” he said. “Those storm sewers can only take so much water, but this should help immensely.”