In 2019, the City of Tuscaloosa will join the State of Alabama in celebrating our 200th birthday. Certainly, this milestone is cause for celebration, but it also comes with challenges, especially in the area of aging infrastructure.
When we took office in 2005, 25 percent of the City’s residents were in areas prone to flash flooding, especially in our low and moderate income communities. Without a bold plan to address these issues, it was estimated that it would take 60 plus years, based on current funding levels, to address flash flooding.
The Council and I knew we had to chart a different course. Working closely with Council President Harrison Taylor and Finance Chair Lee Garrison, we crafted the Noah’s Ark Storm Drainage Initiative. By paying off existing debt, we were able to significantly address flooding for less than half a million annually. The Tuscaloosa News October 2006 Editorial says it best:
“Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox’s plan to alleviate some of the city’s longstanding drainage problems appears to be a sound way to drain the city’s storm water without draining the city’s treasury. For years the city has patched drainage problems here and there. A comprehensive plan is overdue. When it rains some parts of the city fill up like a fishbowl, and the council has heard plenty of complaints from residents over the years…This plan promises to alleviate storm water drainage problems at 13 sites in nine different basins throughout Tuscaloosa. Some areas that will be helped are on the west side — an area historically overlooked when it comes to city improvements, and badly in need of relief. Noah’s Ark would alleviate flash flood problems for about 25 percent of city residents”
Since 2007, Noah’s Ark has invested $26 million across Tuscaloosa into 30 storm drainage improvement projects. Noah’s Ark has significantly reduced neighborhood flooding and provided peace of mind for thousands of citizens.
Another significant benefit has been the floodplain update for residents living in areas where improvements had alleviated flooding. Properties across the City were removed from the floodplain, thus providing significant savings on insurance rates.
As your governor, I will carry with me the principles that have guided me as mayor. Alabama is in crisis and it’s going to take innovative and effective leadership to address the failed leadership of the past. From upgrading our roads and bridges, to addressing sewer issues polluting communities, we will be relentless in achieving results and not rhetoric.