The city is working to update floodplain maps for southeastern Laramie, hoping the federal government will approve the levees and bridge already in place on 30th Street.
The Laramie City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve the $225,868.50 needed to complete the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s requirements to update the Spring Creek floodplain maps.
City engineer Eric Jaap explained that when FEMA digitized its maps several years ago, some of the floodplains shifted. This occurred all over the county and made it to where water bodies were mapped in inaccurate locations.
“Spring Creek actually currently on the floodplain goes through the Ridley’s parking lot,” Jaap said during the meeting.
As the city completed a South Laramie Drainage Study to move Spring Creek in 2015, staff decided to simultaneously correct the FEMA map. However, when it was submitted to FEMA, it had several comments, most notably requiring a modeling of the creek’s channel and a permit for the currently unpermitted levee along 30th Street. Jaap said the levee was unknown to both staff and FEMA because it was likely put in when Spring Creek was moved in the 1920s.
To address FEMA’s comments, city staff approached Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc., to put together the cost and scope of the work, as the company has done similar projects throughout the country. The company will also have to get the stabilization that occurred when the bridge was installed on 30th Street approved by FEMA, Jaap said.
Councilman Paul Weaver asked if there was a chance the levee on 30th Street would need to be reconstructed.
“We really don’t know at this time,” Jaap answered. “There’s a pretty in-depth analysis that’s going to have to be done to get it certified.”
Weaver added if it did need to be replaced, he doubted it would be cheap because “nothing is.”
The floodplain update will be combined with another project, Jaap said, involving “a potential bike path that may actually run where the levee is proposed.”
“Each time you submit to FEMA it’s over $8,000, so we wanted to combine that work, get a plan for that so it’s all permitted,” he said during the meeting.