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Corinth wins award for drainage project

Corinth Mayor Tommy Irwin, members of the Board of Aldermen and Cook-Coggin Engineers were among those accepting the city's award.

By Jebb Johnston

jjohnston@dailycorinthian.com

Corinth's recently completed $5.6 million drainage project earned a moment in the spotlight at last week's Mississippi Municipal League Annual Conference in Biloxi.

The city took the MML Excellence Award for public works with the large-scale flood mitigation projects for the Hickory-Oak and Tishomingo-Polk drainage basins in the category for cities with populations of more than 10,000.

Awards are given in the areas of public safety, planning & economic development, city spirit and public works.

In the last seven years, it is the third excellence award for infrastructure projects in the city, following honors for the surface water project in 2013 and the sewer plant upgrade in 2014.

"Of all the projects that we have done, I have never had as many 'thank yous' as this project," said Mayor Tommy Irwin. "It took seven years to get it from the application process to the end of construction."

The new pipes and water detention areas were put to the test almost immediately with a major flooding event in late February.

"In the past, if we had that kind of rainfall, there's no question that Polk Street would have been flooded," said Dave Huwe, director of community development and planning.

The city won a grant of $4.09 million from the Economic Development Administration for the project and matched it with a $1 million loan and $500,000 from reserves.

The city's summary of the project describes how the city sprang to life in an area between Elam Creek and Phillips Creek, which emptied into Bridge Creek. Later, those creeks became improved drainage channels in order to free up land for development. In the latter decades of the 1900s, new residential development continued northward, and stormwater runoff increased in neighborhoods where the drainage systems had not been designed for the new upstream development. The situation came to a head with the historic flood of May 2010, when many structures flooded and people had to be rescued by boat.

Key elements of the project in the Tishomingo-Polk basin were increasing the number of culverts beneath the Kansas City Southern Railway from two 48-inch diameter pipes to six 60-inch pipes to allow for the water of a 1 percent chance rain event to pass out of the basin. It also includes a detention pond on the west side of the railway to slow the water and avoid overwhelming Elam Creek.

Key elements of the project in the Hickory-Oak basin included an increase in the size of the drainage structures from the intersection of Hickory Road and Oak Lane. Some drainage structures were rerouted, and pipes were upgraded to reinforced concrete to ensure they will last for many decades. Many of the old corrugated metal pipes were failing, resulting in sinkholes.

A committee of judges outside of the MML selects the winners, recognizing cities and towns for innovative problem solving, excellence in management, citizen participation and striving to provide a higher level of service.

Irwin and members of the Board of Aldermen were among the many municipal leaders from across the state in Biloxi attending classes and networking with others at the three-day annual conference.