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Old Beechwold Area Improvements – Columbus, OH

Once the location of a zoo, the Old Beechwold neighborhood in Columbus, OH is made up of 137 single-family homes bordering the Olentangy River. In 1985, Old Beechwold was placed on the Columbus Register of Historic Properties, and in 1987 on the National Register of Historic Places. Historic neighborhoods typically have “historic” infrastructure, in this case, water mains ranging from 69 to 98 years old and underperforming stormwater systems that would cause nuisance flooding. This neighborhood is wooded, with mature trees in excess of 36” in trunk diameter.

The Old Beechwold Area Improvements project began as part of a stormwater initiative called Blueprint Columbus. Blueprint Columbus is a city-wide program that reduces storm sewer overflows while also investing in neighborhoods and the local economy with green infrastructure. Given the historic, unique characteristics of the neighborhood, additional investigation into existing infrastructure was performed. T&M’s investigation revealed that waterline replacement and roadway reconstruction along with coordination with the local gas utility was necessary. This resulted in a comprehensive utility upgrade for the neighborhood while minimizing disruption. The $10 million (estimated construction cost) project includes storm sewer improvements, bioretention basins, waterline replacement and roadway reconstruction.

Extensive public outreach was performed, mainly to address stormwater concerns that arose during wet weather and green infrastructure design. Site visits were made during rainstorms to document ponding. It wasn’t unusual for the City’s 311 Call Center to receive video files from this neighborhood after a downpour. For the design of the bioretention basins, a committee of representative homeowners was consulted to help choose types of flowers, bushes, and trees, as well as address concerns such as deer damaging the trees before they are mature.

The design minimized disruption to mature trees in the project area, keeping waterline and storm sewer under narrow roadways. Many exceptions to the 10 State Standards were needed. Storm sewer is often specified with watertight joints. One section of storm sewer is to be installed with trenchless construction to minimize disruption to a 100-year old tree.

This project will be bid in the coming months, with construction anticipated to begin this summer.

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