Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 22, 2013

Flood control — Progress on Princeton project

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Engineering and design work could soon be getting underway on a long-planned flood control project for the city of Princeton. City Manager Elke Doom confirmed earlier this week that the Princeton City Council is expected to open bids during its July meeting on the first phase of the Stafford Drive project that seeks to correct chronic flooding in the heart of Princeton’s business district.

Five bids have been received for the first phase of the project, which includes engineering and design work, according to Doom. The phase one work is being funded through a $250,000 grant received from the Hugh I. Shott Jr. Foundation. The city is still searching for an additional $250,000 in matching funds needed to complete the actual project construction.

Both state and federal officials have been asked to help in the funding search, and the city also has applied for a sixth Small Cities Block Grant application to help complete the project. Five prior grant applications for the flood control plan have been inexplicably rejected.

Doom says the engineering study will help city officials determine the best way to correct chronic flooding along sections of Stafford Drive during periods of heavy rain.

High water on the street has been an issue for motorists, residents of Princeton and Lazenby avenues as well as for the Mercer County Senior Center on Trent Street for years. Officials with the senior center often have had to resort to putting sandbags at their doors during storms to prevent water from seeping into their lobby. And motorists must frequently detour the Stafford Drive area during periods of significant flooding.

Tragedy was narrowly averted in January of this year when an SUV carrying a woman and a child was submerged under water in Princeton near the Athens Crossroads — an area located a few miles past Stafford Drive. Heavy rain had swollen the creek running alongside the supermarket parking lot at the Athens Crossroads when the SUV suddenly went into the water. A child and woman were rescued from the vehicle.

We are glad to hear that engineering and design work could soon be getting underway on this project. The engineering study, and design plans, must be completed before any actual construction can begin. That’s why it is our hope that the engineering and design work can get underway as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, city officials must continue to actively search for additional funding for this all-important project. Because it is only a matter of time before the next heavy rain comes, and the heavily traveled state thoroughfare is flooded again.