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FEMA funds to replace Beech Bottom stormwater line

BEECH BOTTOM — Recurring problems related to a deteriorating stormwater line in Beech Bottom may be near an end, thanks to a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have announced $1,086,166 has been secured through the agency to upgrade the line.

Mayor Becky Uhlly said it will be the first of three equal installments for a $3,480,000 project involving the replacement of a deteriorating line that carries runoff from 49 Hill above the village to the Ohio River.

Breaks in the 95-year-old clay line have caused sinkholes at various areas along its path, with the most recent occurring along state Route 2.

She said plans call for the line to be replaced with one 6 foot in diameter and extending about 2,500 feet from the base of 49 Hill, across the churchyard of Beech Bottom Community Christian Church near High Street to Third Street, Alley C and the Ohio River.

Plans designed by Thrasher Engineering of Clarksburg call for about a dozen concrete manholes to provide access to areas of the line.

Uhlly said the village will advertise for a contractor in the weeks ahead and hopes to name one in November.

“Hopefully it will be a nice winter and they can get some work done before spring,” she said.

The mayor said addressing the line has been a top priority since she and others on village council entered office.

“It’s been a long waiting game,” said Uhlly, who spoke of carrying a large cardboard box filled with documents to meetings with various state and federal officials since 2014.

She noted an orange tint to water in the pipe often found in discharges from coal mines suggested it was being blocked by material from a mine that once operated above the village.

The project might have been supported by funds for abandoned mine sites, but the village was unable to show the line, which was not built by it, had been constructed for the coal mine.

It also was complicated by the fact the current line runs beneath the church building.

Uhlly said she’s thankful to Capito and Manchin, who each serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee, for securing the needed funds to make it a reality.

In a released statement, Capito said, “West Virginia’s mountainous terrain and steep valleys make our communities especially susceptible to flooding. As the lead Republican on the Senate homeland security appropriations subcommittee, I have worked to make sure communities across West Virginia have the resources needed to prevent flooding and make sure residents are protected from natural disasters. We know all too well the devastating impact flash flooding can have in our state, which is why projects like this are so important.”

Manchin, in the same announcement, said, “I am pleased FEMA is investing in this Beech Bottom flood control project to help upgrade their storm sewer system. West Virginia must be prepared for any storm or disaster that comes our way, and I will continue to advocate for funding and resources protect our communities.”

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