Environmental Resiliency Project in Hampton Roads

About The Ohio Creek Watershed Project

In January 2017, the City of Norfolk was awarded a $112 million federal grant from the National Disaster Resilience Competition to reduce flooding and improve public spaces in the Chesterfield Heights and Grandy Village Neighborhoods.

These two historic waterfront neighborhoods experienced significant tidal and precipitation flooding. The regular flood events had a significant impact on the community. There are only two roads that connect these neighborhoods to the rest of the city which makes travel difficult during flooding times. Additionally, shoreline erosion prevented recreational activity on the waterfront.

Through a combination of hardscape and natural landscape solutions as well as utility improvements, the resulting infrastructure is designed to protect this waterfront community from coastal erosion and improve the neighborhood’s connection to the City of Norfolk.

Utility Improvements for The Ohio Creek Project

Utility replacements and upgrades were an important part of The Ohio Creek Watershed project. Adding pump stations, rerouting stormwater lines, and upgrading water lines improved area drainage and overall neighborhood aesthetics.

Project utility improvements included:

  • two new pump stations
  • new sanitary sewer
  • 20,000 linear feet of replaced storm lines
  • 17,000 linear feet of upgraded waterlines

SPRE for Pump Station Yard

In the pump station green space, Steel Reinforced Polyethylene (SRPE) was value engineered for Reinforced Concrete Pipe (RCP).

Laney Ettel, Assoc. DBIA Project Manager at MEB, remarks on the value of using SRPE:

“The Ohio Creek Watershed project included the construction of Ballentine pump station. The RCP storm drain in the City roadways transitioned to 60” SRPE within the pump station yard. Roughly 220 LF of SRPE was installed for the pump station intake. The main advantage of using SRPE was how lightweight it is compared to RCP or ductile iron pipe. Production is increased installing SRPE because it has longer lay lengths and easily secured joints. It’s a good solution for durable drainage pipe to be installed in green spaces.”     

Bridgeman Civil, Inc. installed the SRPE was the Ohio Creek project. TJ Starkey, the Project Manager for The Ohio Creek project, remarks on his personal experience with Steel Reinforced Polyethylene Pipe for the project:

“Bridgeman Civil was contracted to install roughly 618 LF 30” and 36” SRPE (Steel Reinforced Polyethylene) Pipe at the Ohio Creek Project in Norfolk, VA. We have a very long history of installing underground utilities (water, sewer, and storm) in the Tidewater Area, however, this was our first time installing the SRPE Pipe Material. It is an amazing product. The SRPE material is significantly lighter than RCP even at more than double-the length [of RCP]. This allowed for easier installation and handling of the product. Also, given [SRPE’s] length of 20-feet, it cuts down on the rigging and laytime associated with 8-foot length RCP. From a material standpoint, it is my belief that this material will have a service life that far surpasses the performance of RCP.”

Coastal Protection at Ohio Creek

Mitigating flooding and controlling coastal erosion was another key objective for The Ohio Creek project. The City of Norfolk is a highly urbanized and relatively flat area that is surrounded by rivers and bay. Nearly all areas of the City are under 15 feet of elevation.

To control erosion and mitigate future flooding, a combination of green infrastructure, hardscape and natural landscape designs were incorporated into the project.

Coastal protection improvements at Ohio Creek include:

  • Flood berm
  • Creation and restoration of wetlands
  • Restored tidal creek
  • Cast in place concrete walls
  • Gabion basket gravity retaining wall

Gabion Basket Retaining Wall

Gabion Baskets were used for coastal protection in several areas of The Ohio Creek project.

A wall of gabion baskets created a costal protection flood berm that spanned over 300-linear feet. According to Laney Ettel, MEB Project Manager, “These gabions were included in the design of this berm due to the limited space/width available to install the flood protection in this area. They were placed on the roadway side of the berm to act as a retention wall for the berm fill used behind them.”

Gabions were also installed at the Ballentine & Hayes Creek pump stations. In this application, The Gabion Baskets created a gravity retaining wall which is a permeable and flexible coastal protection wall. Maccaferri’s double twisted woven steel wire mesh Gabions accommodate large differential settlements without rupturing or unzipping. Both Galvanized Gabion Baskets and Polymer Coated Gabion Baskets were installed at Ohio Creek.

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