Major eastside stormwater project complete

Major eastside stormwater project complete
Posted on 03/17/2022
Sam Snead construction completed.

El Paso Water has announced the completion of the Sam Snead Recovery Project. The newly constructed underground tunnel has the capacity to send more than 350,000 gallons per minute of stormwater to the Pico Norte Pond. The stormwater project addresses a major public safety concern in an area historically prone to flash flooding.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Ryan Stubbs, EPWater project manager. “Adding this type of drainage to the area will help to ease flooding for the intersection and the entire street.”

Many of El Paso’s streets are designed to carry storm runoff to nearby detention ponds. However, Sam Snead collects storm flows from the broader surrounding area, and sometimes the intensity causes streets to become inundated.

“It was a sight to see how a whole river would form in the street from the rains,” said resident Gilbert Calderon. “But it was dangerous if you had to go through there.”

Residents are relieved. “We’re happy that it’s done, and we think it’ll do well,” said Calderon.

Installing new infrastructure can often involve open-trenching, loud machinery, road closures and detours for the duration of the project, as was the case for this stormwater project.

“We recognize that this project took a toll on the area,” said Stormwater Engineering Division Manager Gisela Dagnino. “We can’t thank the residents enough for their patience.”

A massive undertaking

Sam Snead projectThe scope called for the demolition and repaving of a significant portion the street and temporary lane closures along Lee Trevino to accommodate the installation of 2,200 feet of box culvert tunnel under Sam Snead from the Pico Norte Pond to Lee Trevino Drive, as well as drop inlets along the street’s surface.

The project began in Fall 2019. As it continued, crews encountered numerous problems along the way. A global pandemic, unanticipated soil conditions, and water and wastewater line breaks all contributed to a year-long delay of the project

The storms of Summer 2021 flooded the excavated construction site and set the completion date back even further. In July, the Public Service Board listened to concerns shared by City Rep. Cassandra Hernandez, who expressed frustration on behalf of the Sam Snead residents in her district.

The PSB took action to accelerate the project by adding another contractor, Jordan Foster Construction, to the project. With the additional manpower and resources, the crews completed the major construction work by the end of February, with only minor sidewalk and lighting work still pending. 

On March 11, the intersection of Lee Trevino and Sam Snead completely reopened.

Looking ahead

Future improvements for this area are in the works. The storm water improvements for the Pico Norte area were planned to be implemented in multiple phases. Phase 1 included the building of the Pico Norte Pond. The Sam Snead project was Phase 2, which included installing underground drainage and increasing stormwater capacity. Next phase will include building a concrete flume to protect the Pico Norte Pond slope along Bywood and help convey the stormwater into the pond. The project is currently in design.

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