With the conclusion of a press conference, the clock officially started on Pittsburgh District’s latest partnership project in Johnstown, Nov. 25.
The project is estimated to cost $1.2 million and will eliminate approximately 11,000 cubic yards of sediment, the equivalent of 4,400 pickup trucks, and five acres of vegetation along one mile of the Stonycreek River. The project will also remove plant life from the wall's weep holes and expansion joints. The project is considered a “365-and-done” effort, which means it will be completed exactly one year from the first official dirt turned.
The Corps chose this particular site because of where the river banks are depositing sediment.
“If you could look at a map, this is the S-turn in the river, so geographically and geology-wise, this is where the sediment is getting hung up more than in other areas,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Klink, deputy commander, Pittsburgh District. “Now, there’s sediment up and down the entire river length but this is where you can have a clog, for lack of better term. That, combined with the vegetation that catches sediment, increases the sediment causing additional flooding."
Benjamin Sakmar, the project’s lead engineer, says the 19,000 Johnstown residents will benefit from the project.
“With increased sediment, you have decreased capacity,” said Sakmar. “That's essentially what this project is meant to do – to increase the flow back to the original capacity of the channel, take out the vegetation, and do maintenance to the concrete side banks.”
Rep. John Joyce, 13th Congressional District, has worked closely with the Pittsburgh District to ensure flood protection projects and other infrastructure are repaired and working as designed.
“Maintaining the Stonycreek River infrastructure is a key priority for the Johnstown community. After months of working alongside Col. Short and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I am looking forward to the groundbreaking of these much-needed updates to protect the citizens of Johnstown and prevent future catastrophes,” said Joyce. “As I saw firsthand while walking the river walls and climbing the river banks earlier this year, this project is vital for the safety of our community.”