Conflicting dates given for completion of flood channels

Although recent flooding has expedited plans for construction of flood channels in the northwest, it is still unclear exactly when residents will see the work completed.

On Wednesday, city officials announced that their new top priority is connecting the Kyle Canyon Detention Basin to existing underground floodwater pipelines that would deposit the water in Lake Mead rather than onto Las Vegas residential streets. Repairs to flood-damaged Grand Teton Drive won’t be made until the channel construction is completed.

Two flood channels are required. One will run along Grand Teton Drive from Hualapai Way to Tee Pee Lane, and a second 1.8-mile channel will run along Grand Teton Drive from Durango Drive to Rainbow Boulevard.

The Kyle Canyon Detention Basin collects rainwater from the Spring Mountains, and more recently, debris from the Carpenter 1 Fire, and slowly lets the mixture flow into an underground pipeline. Since there is no connecting point currently, that mixture surfaces near Grand Teton Drive and Hualapai Way, causing the severe flooding seen in the area the last two weekends, which will cost the city about $350,000 in cleanup costs.

City officials said construction will begin in November on the channel east of U.S. Highway 95. According to city spokeswoman Diana Paul, design for the project west of the highway, which wasn’t planned to begin for at least five years, will begin immediately and is expected to begin in about eight months. It could be finished by early 2015, according to the city.

The Regional Flood Control District disagrees with the city’s timeline, however. Flood control district spokeswoman Erin Neff called city’s plans “very optimistic.”

According to spokeswoman Kelsey Hand, the flood control district’s engineers are confident that the construction will not begin on the channel east of U.S. 95 until January 2014, and will take no less than 455 days to complete assuming they run into absolutely no delays. That puts the estimated completion date somewhere in the middle of 2015.

The $7 million construction project west of U.S. 95, according to the district, likely wouldn’t be finished until at least the end of 2015.

“We’d love to just snap our fingers and be done, but we can’t,” Hand said.

While their timelines on the final completion dates for the two projects may differ, both the flood control district and the city agree that the projects are high priority and will eventually help quell flooding problems in the northwest.

“We’ll always see water in the street. That’s normal,” Hand said. “We will not see the flooding like we do now, though.”

The flooding has done more than just tear up local streets in Las Vegas and the Spring Mountains. According to Spring Mountain National Recreation Area spokeswoman Skye Sieber, the entrance to Fletcher View Campground in Kyle Canyon was heavily damaged, prompting officials to close the campground indefinitely.

Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.