Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Public Staircase Offers Clue To Builders

Photo: Diane Edwardson, May 28, 2010. The Earl Public Staircase features 8" diameter storm drains with foot-wide drainage flumes. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

A few years ago, a builder of an apartment building on Allesandro at Fargo remarked to me, "You know, we had to redo our entire storm drain system 3 times before it could handle the amount of rain that comes off this hillside." Their parking lot had been flooding, even with light rain.

A neighbor on Riverside Place had the same experience. The amount of stormwater flowing off our steep hillsides to the lowest properties overwhelms standard stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs). The steep topography of the 2 Freeway Corridor adds to the orographic uplift, producing at least triple the amount of official rainfall totals.

Photo: Diane Edwardson, May 28, 2010. Earl Public Staircase zig-zags up a very steep slope, complete with a storm drain the length of the staircase. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The size of the drainage system on the Earl Public Staircase, between Earl (on top) and Earl & Bancroft (facing the 2 Freeway), should be a clue to builders. Considering the public staircases were built long before Doppler radar, builders understood how much rain flowed off these hills.

Photo: Diane Edwardson, June 4, 2010. Sixteen inch tall storm drain inlet on Allesandro Way at Silver Ridge Ave. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Another clue is size of the City storm drain inlets at the lowest portion of the neighborhood streets, like Riverside Drive, Riverside Place and Allesandro. I once toured some architecture students from Germany and Japan around the area. They marvelled at the scale of the storm drain inlets.

So if you plan to build near a low point of the area slopes, whatever you think stormwater BMPs are - triple the capacity, you'll save time and headaches later.

We're celebrating the Red Car Property Neighborhood's public staircases in anticipation of Th Big Parade II coming June 12 & 13, 2010. More info and routes for the 2-day 100+ public staircase hike: