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Like Venice itself, Venetian Boulevard prone to flood

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Driving on Venetian Boulevard these days is like taking your vehicle through a free car wash.

Most days, half a foot of water covers the roadway near Bridgeview Marina, slowing traffic and creating enormous spray zones.

Cycling or walking on the adjacent sidewalk can be a wet and muddy experience whenever a vehicle splashes past.

Point Edward administrator Jim Burns says the road flooded last year, dried up in the fall, and flooded again this summer.

The municipality gets several complaints a week, he said.

So what’s up with that?

Record high Great Lakes water levels explain part of it, said Matt Deline, Lambton County’s public works manager.

The appropriately named Venetian Boulevard is a county road and he’s working with Point Edward officials on a fix. The village is responsible for the pipes under the street; the county for everything above ground.

Lake Huron and the St. Clair River have broken monthly water level records since May, according to the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Huron’s all-time high mark was exceeded by four inches.

Which begs the question: why aren’t other local roads flooding?

The answer lies beneath Venetian Boulevard, where a small section of storm sewer outlets at the marina.

The pipe is full, explains Deline. The storm sewer normally relies on gravity to drain road runoff into the marina basin. But with the river so high, the water backs up and creates a pond on the road. And it gets worse when there’s a north wind.

Deline and his team have been looking for solutions since last year.  It’s not an easy fix, he said.

Redirecting the water to a nearby pumping station is a possible and permanent solution, but expensive. So they’re looking for a short-term alternative costing tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands, of dollars.

“We’ve reached a level of urgency and it’s time to act,” Deline says. “We’d like to finish the evaluation and get to work within weeks, not months.”

That might mean pumping the water into another village system, though that’s not decided yet.

Meanwhile, Venetian has been flooded for six straight weeks. Warning signs were erected to alert drivers about the flood zone. Another sign, at the deepest point, oddly informs drivers that water is up over the road.

Note to motorists: If you can’t spot water on a road without the aid of a sign, perhaps you shouldn’t be driving.

If the surrounding water level doesn’t recede again this fall and the mitigation work isn’t done by winter, Venetian may have to be closed, says Deline.

“We knew right from the beginning it would be a difficult fix and likely costly,” says Point Edward Mayor Bev Hand.

“I’m hoping they can fix it this year.”

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