Planning is underway for flood relief in the Huntington neighborhood after Fairfax County residents voted “yes” to a $30 million bond on Election Day. But officials don’t have a timeline for the project just yet.
The storm-water bond will provide a source of funding for a levee and other measures that officials hope will mitigate flooding in the area. There are 180 Huntington homes at risk of flooding in the FEMA-designated flood plain, and $30 million will fund a 2,865-foot-long levee and pump station along Cameron Run – something residents agree the area is in dire need of.
Residents were able to breathe a sigh of relief after Hurricane Sandy – although some residents were forced to evacuate, no flooding occurred.
But homes Huntington homes weren’t as lucky in Sept. 2011. More than 160 homes in Huntington flooded, forcing more than 200 residents to evacuate.
Voters approved the storm-water improvement bond by an overwhelming margin, with 316,296 “yes” votes (77 percent) to 95,756 “no” votes (23 percent).
"I was pleasantly surprised to see how many Fairfax County residents cast their ballots in favor of the Stormwater referendum," said Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. "It is reassuring that so many voters decided to assist the Huntington community with a unique and difficult situation."
Now begins the long process of planning and constructing the infrastructure.
County spokesman Brian Worthy said that with the bond passed, officials would embark on the normal process for any large-scale county construction project – drawing up a design, bidding the project to a builder and constructing. County officials just recently began requesting qualification submissions for engineering services related to the project.
The project is in very preliminary stages at the moment, he said, so no definitive timeline is currently available.
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland, whose constituents live in the Huntington neighborhood, said he didn’t think the levee would be done by next fall, the 2013 hurricane season, but hoped it would be ready for the following year.
“The county is required to go through the same process as any developer with any major project,” he said. (See: County Requesting Architectural Qualifications for Flood Control Measure.)
Bulova echoed Hyland's sentiments.
"While it is unlikely that the project will be completed by 2013, the County is currently soliciting design options from the private sector in order to determine the best way to move forward and address the problem in the long run," she said.
Hyland said county staff was brought together to begin planning and implementing the bond’s passage the day after Election Day.
“Now we’ve got to get down to the nitty-gritty in terms of how to make it happen,” he said.
There will be plenty more news about the project on the horizon, Worthy said.
“This project is going on for a while,” he said.
The storm-water improvements bond is one of four bonds in a $155 million package approved by voters. The remaining money will go towards improving parks ($75 million), libraries ($25 million) and public safety facilities ($55 million). All of the bonds passed with at least 70 percent of the vote.