WATCH: Ann Arbor celebrates grand opening of Allen Creek Railroad Berm Project

A project member holds up a rendering of the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Project on Feb. 18, 2020.
A project member holds up a rendering of the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Project on Feb. 18, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – The city of Ann Arbor released a video on Tuesday marking the virtual grand opening of the Allen Creek Railroad Berm Project.

The flood mitigation and stormwater management project was the largest undertaking of its kind in city history. More than a decade in the making, it cost $9.4 million and construction took roughly eight months to complete.

“This is an incredibly exciting municipal project, multimillion dollar, years in the making,” Mayor Christopher Taylor said in the video. “It addresses two really important municipal goals: stormwater and flood protection mitigation as well as promotion of nonmotorized transportation.”

The 90-second video was in lieu of a public ceremony due to the ongoing pandemic. A4 was at the original project launch ceremony in February, less than a month before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Michigan.

Beyond lowering the floodplain and decreasing the likelihood of contaminants flowing into the Huron River from flooded city streets, the Allen Creek Berm tunnel pedestrian pathway now allows nonmotorized users to connect to the Border-to-Border Trail.

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“Residents, for years, have wanted to be able to get to Kerrytown and downtown via the amazing Border-to-Border Trail, in a way that’s awesome,” Taylor said in the video.

The addition of massive new culverts will dramatically decrease flooding risks for several homeowners and businesses on or near Depot Street, which borders the Huron River.

“We’re effectively lowering the floodplain from 10 feet to 3 1/2 feet, so depending on exactly where the property is, the chances of flooding will be reduced by at least 70%,” Brian Slizewski, the city engineer who oversaw the construction said in a news release.

The city has submitted documents requesting to remove several properties from the floodplain map in the area to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. While the process could take at least two months, it could eliminate the need for homeowners and businesses owners to purchase flood insurance or at least reduce their premiums due to the lowered flood risk.

The Allen Creek Berm project was made possible with grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation, FEMA, SEMCOG and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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