When City Councilman Steve Ross last tackled the topic of flood improvements along Grand Teton Drive, he was getting yelled at by a crowd of angry, recently flooded Centennial Hills residents.
Dozens of Ross’ constituents, still damp from weeks of record rainfall, spent the better part of a Sept. 5 town hall meeting taking the Ward 6 councilman and a handful of city officials to task for thousands of cubic yards of water and hardened ash still washing down Mount Charleston’s charred slopes and into their backyards.
Years of stop-start development had left gaps in the area’s flood control grid, allowing water to overwhelm city detention basins and even force temporary closures along U.S. Highway 95.
Three months later, according to Ross, a lot has changed.
City officials — who saw the water go over miles of flood-preventative shot rock and Jersey barriers — hope to break ground on $12.3 million in long-planned flood infrastructure upgrades early next month.
The roughly 6,800 linear feet of reinforced concrete boxes and pipe planned to run under Grand Teton Drive is expected to handle about 1,100 cubic feet of flood water per second, a little more than an eighth the water volume witnessed during this monsoon season’s floods.
The city expects to dig into a second $6.5 million floodwater diversion project between Hualapai Way and Tee Pee Lane — which is set to handle about 700 cubic feet per second — by early next summer. Workers hope to have both projects wrapped up by mid-2015.
“You have to remember: This was not a 100-year flood; this was a 150-year event,” Ross said Dec. 12. “There were 8,000 cubic feet per second flowing into Kyle Canyon (Detention Basin). We could have never anticipated those types of flows.
“Without the basin and without some of the Jersey barrier we had in place, those floods would have been biblical.”
Not everyone will get everything they want out of the city’s nearly $19 million flood control investment.
Ross said for the time being, neighborhoods between Durango Drive and Cimarron Road will remain vulnerable to heavy cloudbursts.
He added that homeowners living outside city jurisdiction will still have to look for flood-related property damage relief through their insurance company or homeowners association, a major bone of contention for some residents flooded in September.
They, like residents in nearly every Centennial Hills neighborhood, can also expect some construction-related traffic delays.
“There’s also going to be some work on Hualapai Way and (the 215 Beltway) going on at the same time,” Ross said. “There will be delays; you’ll want to be mindful of the traffic, but we’ll have two lanes open in each direction.”
Clark County Regional Flood Control District spokeswoman Erin Neff expects that a couple of extra minutes on the daily commute will prove a small, temporary price to pay for a virtually flood-free neighborhood.
The bottom line, she said, is that northwest Las Vegas has already seen the worst of what flash floods have to offer.
“By mid-2015, we’ll no longer have the type of flooding we saw this summer,” Neff said. “All that water will simply be conveyed underground.”
For biweekly updates on the flood control improvement project, subscribe to Ross’ Ward 6 newsletter at lasvegasnevada.gov.
For more information on flood project specifications, visit ccrfcd.org.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at email@example.com or 702-477-3839.