$1.1M to aid Old North Dayton levee that protects hundreds of businesses from flooding

Credit: Chris Stewart

Credit: Chris Stewart

A federal $1.1 million grant announced Thursday will help improve a levee that protects hundreds of businesses in Old North Dayton from flooding and provide the area with more recreation and transportation options.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding the grant to the Miami Conservancy District to upgrade the Greater Old North Dayton levee.

“This EDA investment will reduce flood risk from the Great Miami River for businesses, homes, and infrastructure and ensure long-term economic benefits to the Miami Valley region,“ said Dennis Alvord, acting assistant secretary of commerce for Economic Development.

To be matched with $276,254 in local investment from the Miami Conservancy District, the grant is expected to retain 100 jobs and generate $5 million in private investment, according to an EDA news release.

The planned improvements include re-armoring the levee with concrete and utilizing the levee as a new alternative transportation route for the region’s commuters. The project aims to ensure that more than 700 local businesses are protected from future disasters, according to the EDA.

“Upgrading Dayton’s levee system remains critical to our region’s safety and local economy,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R -Dayton. “I’m appreciative of the EDA’s $1.1 million grant which will support key infrastructure improvements in the Miami Valley. These improvements are necessary to our region to help prevent future flood disasters, and will help retain jobs and generate further investment in Miami Valley businesses.”

The Old North Dayton levee, a nearly four-mile long earthen embankment is primarily covered with turf grass. At certain locations, however, it is armored with concrete revetment to prevent erosion in areas that may receive high velocity floodwater, according to the Miami Conservancy District (MCD), which maintains the region’s flood protection system built after the Great Flood of 1913.

Janet Bly, MCD general manager, said improvements will be made to three sections of levee on the east bank of the Great Miami River. The first section is immediately upstream of I-75 and the second is just downstream of Keowee Street. A third section is near Kettering Field, another area where 100-year-old concrete armoring on the levee is severely deteriorated, Bly said.

“It could be at risk of erosion and failure if it’s not repaired in a timely manner,” Bly said. “Recognizing that the older neighborhood was severely impacted by the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes, we wanted to prioritize this project so that that area wasn’t affected by a natural disaster yet again.”

The Greater Old North Dayton levee protects an estimated $1.33 billion in property value and a levee failure would put 7,320 people and 882 structures at risk of flood damage, according to the National Levee Database.

The levee project will add roughly a mile to region’s bikeway system from Kettering Field to the Keowee Street bridge, providing more options for people to exercise or get to work whether on bike or foot, Bly said.

The levee on the opposite side of the river currently has a bikeway but is underwater at times, Bly said.

“This would provide a high road and dry road for when the river is up for biking,” she said.

The grant and local match will entirely fund the three fixes and trail addition though no start or completion dates have been set, according to MCD.

In addition to Turner, the grant gained support from Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, as well as all three Democratic Montgomery County commissioners and a host of others.

“Constructing a new alternative transportation route through the Old North Dayton area will also increase economic resiliency by ensuring employees’ ability to travel to the many businesses including manufacturing facilities and other employers in the area,” wrote Montgomery County commissioners in support of the project.

Other area institutions and businesses were also supported the grant application including: CityWide Development Corp., the city of Dayton, Dayton Children’s Hospital, Evans Original Bakery, Greater Old North Dayton Business Association, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, Mikesell’s Snack Food Company and the Old North Dayton Neighborhood Association.

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