HOUSTON - After making potholes his infrastructure priority during his first year, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner is focusing on preventing flooding that seems to constantly plague the city’s streets.
Mayor Turner on Wednesday launched the Storm Water Action Team -- or “SWAT” -- that he says will improve drainage problem spots and lessen flooding.
Homeowners associations and neighborhood groups asked the mayor for help in dealing with flooding plaguing their neighborhood.
Mayor Turner said 311 calls from residents and flooding data are the reason 22 drainage problem spots around the city -- two in each of the 11 council districts -- are finally getting some help.
“And then once we have done that, we’ll look at another 22, then we’ll look at another 22,” Turner said.
More than 100 fix-it projects have already been picked out for city crews and the occasional outside contractor. Officials say there will be about six at a time, with a completion goal of 90 days.
“We randomly picked 22 projects throughout the city that address multiple types of improvements, whether it’s ditch improvements, roadside ditch improvements, driveway culverts, or even storm sewer related or inlets,” said Steve Costello, Chief Resiliency Officer with the City of Houston.
They are projects the city’s so-called “flood czar” Costello says are ready to go after council members on Wednesday approved $10 million to pay the bill.
“When I have shared this with my neighbors, they’ve said ‘Well this is what we’ve been looking for for a long time,’” said city councilman Mike Laster.
Officials are making smaller improvements while they work with other agencies to tackle the bigger flooding issues and clear out a chronic danger on Houston’s streets.
The mayor says the program will be paid for with money from one-time sales of city land and higher-than-expected revenue in the general fund.
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