Town getting ready for rain

ELIZABETHTOWN — A state grant will enable Elizabethtown to rebuild its nearly 75-year-old stormwater system.

A $475,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs will be used to repair five areas of the town’s stormwater system, said Fred Barnett, town council president.

He said the system was built in the 1930s and has either collapsed or become obsolete over the years.

As the system has broken apart, pieces only have been patched, which resulted in stormwater overflowing into the town’s sewer system. That’s created flooding issues, as well as myriad other problems, Barnett said.

In 2013, the town commissioned a Cummins Inc. Six Sigma study into the sewer and stormwater systems to determine the biggest problems.

The issues with the sewer plant have been resolved, Barnett said, so town leaders are shifting their focus to the stormwater system.

“To rebuild the entire system would be a $1.2 million project, so there’s no way we can afford that,” Barnett said. “Based off of the studies, we picked out the top five that were of most concern.”

Two of those spots are along Railroad Street, where the area between Fifth and 11th streets is served by two roadside ditches and a series of culverts. The ditches end near Fifth Street and flow into the central storm sewer, which runs below Railroad Street.

The town plans to replace the existing culverts, deepen the existing drainage ditch and connect the two roadside ditches to the central storm sewer.

The third problem area is the central storm sewer itself, which serves Poplar, Railroad and Walnut streets.

Right now, the sewer has segments in various failing conditions. The portions northeast of Railroad Street can no longer convey stormwater, while the branches to the southwest have custom structures that no longer work, which creates a hazard to the public.

The pipes also aren’t large enough to carry runoff from a 10-year storm.

To fix this area, the town plans to install three new storm inlets along the sewer.

The fourth improvement sector is Fifth Street, where the area southwest of the Fifth and West streets intersection has no drainage infrastructure, despite being in a low-lying area. The area is often flooded, making it dangerous for vehicles and pedestrians.

A 24-inch storm sewer pipe will be installed in this area, with three new storm inlets, one storm manhole and one concrete end section installed along the sewer.

The final area for improvement will be the Little Jordan, which is the main drainage ditch that runs through Elizabethtown. The banks of the ditch are eroding, which causes sediment to build up, restricting flow downstream.

To combat the build-up, the town will install bank stabilization measures.

Curb and gutters will be installed along the five Little Jordan crossings to protect vehicles, while rocks or rubble will be used to protect the three sanitary sewer crossings.

The state grant covers the entire cost of renovating these five areas, Barnett said, but once those areas are finished, the town will have to start the process all over again.

“The grant only covers half the project,” Barnett said. “Once we get that done, we’ll have to apply for another grant.”

And even though the town can’t get all of the necessary work done the first time around, Barnett said, he’s proud of the efforts of the town council to improve life in Elizabethtown.

“We’ve been really thorough with everything,” Barnett said. “We even established a stormwater sub-utility with the sewer plant.”

That sub-utility was created March 2. Its fees will be used for maintenance of the improvements to the stormwater system.

Construction work is scheduled to start next spring, Barnett said, but a completion date has not been set.

5 areas of improvement

Railroad Street 1

  • Install three new 18-inch culverts along Railroad Street
  • Install 30 square yards of pavement around culvert replacement

Railroad Street 2

  • Regrade 2,000 linear feet of drainage ditch along Railroad Street and 11th Street
  • Install 150 feet of storm pipe near Railroad and 11th streets
  • Install two new culverts along 11th Street

Central storm sewer

  • Install three new storm inlets along the storm sewer alignment to replace deteriorated structures

Fifth Street

  • Install about 300 feet of a 24-inch storm pipe. Three new storm inlets, one storm manhole, one concrete end section also will be installed along this sewer alignment
  • Stormwater best management practice — Stormceptor or Downstream Defender

Little Jordan

  • Install about 800 square yards of bank stabilization along the banks of the Little Jordan
  • Install about 800 linear feet of an 8-inch curb and gutter along the five crossings over the Little Jordan maintained by the town
  • Rehabilitate the head and wing walls along the five crossings over the Little Jordan
  • Install about three tons of grouted riprap around the three sanitary sewer crossings
Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at or 812-379-5712.