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Officials Say FAMU Way Project Will Improve Pollution, Flooding Problems

An artists drawing of what the completed FAMU Way project will look like.

There’s a narrow stream that runs alongside FAMU Way. But soon, that stream will no longer be visible. reports on the construction project that will move that stream underground while increasing water quality and creating a new park along the way.

The City of Tallahassee is placing concrete box culverts into the St. Augustine Branch. That’s the formal name of the stream at the intersection of Railroad Square and FAMU Way.

“You know, if had left it open and tried to improve it, then we would have taken actually more space for the water in order to widen it out," says Alisha Wetherell, Program Engineer with the City of Tallahassee. "But now that we’re putting it underground we had a space that was left behind were the water has always been and we can replace it with a park, which is what the community wanted.”

St. Augustine Branch carries run-off water to Munson Lake.

Wetherell says the culverts installed in the stream will be an improvement to Tallahassee’s stormwater system. In the past rushing water would erode the stream’s bank and carry tons of sediments into the lake, contaminating it by choking out oxygen and light, which is detrimental to the wildlife.

“By putting this in a concrete box you’re reducing that scourer in the potential to remove that sediment from that point further down into the watershed," says Charles Hargraves, a manager at Blueprint 2000. That's an inter-governmental agency that recommends storm water and transportation projects in Leon County.

The new stormwater drain system will also reduce flooding in the area. Many properties south of Van Buren Street will no longer be in flood plain when this construction is done.

Covering the ditch has also been a concern of the community because it is a safety hazard. The box culverts will reduce the likelihood of someone falling in and being swept away by the storm water.

When the ditch is covered there will be a trail on top of it connecting FAMU Way to Cascades Park. Harry Farrar, Tallahassee’s Project Design Engineer, says many issues are being solved at once with the project.

“We put these two projects together, so that we would have as little impact on the community as possible," he says.

The construction will add three round-a-bouts, back-in street parking, color concrete sidewalks and trees and greenery. This phase of the project is expected to be complete by 2016.