Rand residents express frustration with town’s drainage issues, DOH listens and explains upcoming project

A resident in Rand speaks during a public informational with the DOH on the town’s drainage issues. Photo by Jake Flatley/wvmetronews.com

RAND, W.Va. — Residents in the unincorporated Kanawha County town of Rand expressed their decades-long concerns with the town’s drainage and flooding issues to the West Virginia Division of Highways on Tuesday night.

West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) officials were on hand at the Rand Community Center for a Public Informational Workshop for the Rand Drainage Project, Phase 1 and Phase 2.

The project involves the reconstruction of the drainage system in Rand and the construction of additional outlets into the Kanawha River. Part of the town of Rand is built on top of a slough – a low-lying area along the river where water tends to collect before slowly draining off, the DOH stated.

Bill White, the Volunteer Fire Chief of Rand was one of the dozens of community members that spoke during a question and answer portion of the DOH presentation. He told MetroNews he’s lived in Rand since 1963 and it’s always been an issue.

“It’s common, not unusual, for the area especially from Harvard (Avenue) to the school to be flooded. People’s backyards are flooded,” he said.

White continued, “The system has sat here for many, many years. It rains, the water gets in there, carries a lot of dirt and then it settles out. The fact is, this system needs to be straightened out one way or another.”

Jason Foster, P.E., WVDOT Chief Engineer of Development, explained to the crowd that the project is scheduled to be done in five phases with sub-parts for each phase, equaling 10-12 projects over the course of several years.

The current phases of the DOH project in Rand.

The phases now under design are Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 begins south of Marshall Avenue and extends to just north of Harvard Avenue. Phase 2 begins at Glenville Avenue and follows Elaine Drive to just north of Emory Avenue, the DOH blueprint shows. In 2019, the WVDOT conducted a study to figure out the best way to fix Rand’s storm sewers.

“Currently we have identified areas where we can facilitate drainage from the public roads system. We are trying our best to address everything we can within our jurisdiction,” Foster said about why a project of this nature would fall to the DOH.

Foster further explained that with Rand being unincorporated, there’s no municipal entity to step in and perform the work now. He said the DOH has avenues of funding for this estimated $12 million project.

“The folks here have had longstanding flooding issues and we’re trying to do what we can to address the flooding in Rand,” Foster said.

The expected environmental clearance for the project is expected in February 2023 and the expected right-of-way activity to begin is March 2023. The DOH hopes to have final plans drawn up for the storm sewer project by January 2024, and go to bid in February.

White said the sooner, the better.

“From my standpoint, some of the system and where it goes, the road is washing out underneath. I am concerned about the fire trucks, weighing as much as they way, going through the asphalt. As a community member, I would just like to see it solved,” the fire chief said.

Those wishing to file written comments after the meeting may send them to Travis Long, Director of Technical Support Division, West Virginia Division of Highways, 1334 Smith Street, Charleston, West Virginia 25301 on or before Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. Comments may also be submitted digitally through the WVDOH commenting website.