The University of Kentucky and Bell Engineering were presented an Engineering Excellence Grand Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Kentucky for the UK Nicholasville Road FEMA Flood Mitigation Project at the ACEC-KY reception held Wednesday, March 29, 2017, in Frankfort, Kentucky. This project was also submitted to the national level where it was awarded a National Recognition Award.
Bell Engineering began working with the University of Kentucky in 2012 to alleviate repetitive flooding issues on the south end of campus. Due to increased runoff volume the storm drainage system was, at times, overwhelmed and would then overtop a major urban arterial highway, causing both traffic and safety concerns. The University was awarded a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant to address the need for more detention to control flow rates and reduce flooding.
Bell prepared a detailed evaluation of the watershed including flow monitoring, stormwater modeling, land use determinations/green space protection, and utility needs. The project incorporated several surface and underground detention basins, stream restoration, and bio-swale concepts into a linear stormwater park that provides storage in the upper reaches of the watershed while reducing downstream flooding. There were numerous challenges in achieving these goals, including a need to reduce the peak flow for the 100-year, 24-hour event by over 50 percent. Usable surface areas for detention were at a premium due to the growth of the University. The watershed contains the football stadium, family housing, and a child care center, requiring continuous coordination of multiple stakeholders and causing potential safety concerns for open basins. The owner also wanted a pleasing, park-like feel in this high profile area.
Prior to the project, the watershed had 14.9 acre-feet of detention. There is now 22.7 acre-feet of detention including 13.4 acre-feet in open basins and 9.3 acre-feet in underground detention including underneath parking areas. This project was completed while a separate contract to realign a roadway through the site was constructed and stadium renovations were being completed, requiring coordination with multiple contractors and engineers to accommodate design and construction impacts.