Olsson Associates

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Olsson balances nature and urban environment to design city stream

Monday, August 11, 2014

Nancy Wichmer, Marketing

A rendering of Springfield's South Creek ChannelCars and homes and businesses have been built around it, yet the stream abides.
The South Creek Channel in Springfield, Missouri, is a one-mile, concrete-lined urban streamway that runs through a highly developed area of Springfield. Seeking a more natural setting for area residents to visit and play by, the city selected Olsson Associates to produce a design that will restore the creek to a more ecological condition.

“The stream is a unique feature of the city and one that hasn’t been utilized to its full benefit,” said Tony Stanton, Olsson’s project manager for the restoration project. “Our goals with this project are to design in context of the existing landscape, not against it, in order to achieve both short-term and long-term success.”

The project’s design will be completed by the end of 2014 with an estimated construction completion date of October 2015.

The city selected Olsson Associates for the restoration project to improve water quality and aquatic habitat while providing flood reduction in the area. To count the project a success, the Olsson team must also carefully balance the stream’s natural processes within the constraints of the existing urban development.

With a construction fee running approximately $1 million, the design challenges are considerable. South Creek has been channelized and straightened and provides a low level of ecological habitat and water quality mitigation. The reach also has large, multiple cell box culverts located at crossings with city streets and a recreational walking and biking trail that is adjacent to the channel within the stream corridor.

Making improvements to enhance habitat and improve water quality along this stream will require evaluating the existing available elements and constraints to determine the most beneficial strategies to meet the city’s project goals established through its EPA Section 319 Grant.

The Olsson team’s approach to all habitat restoration projects is to promote a particular stage of ecological succession. Through resource inventories, engineering analysis, and city and stakeholder feedback, Olsson will determine the most appropriate stage of development for the design to provide the most sustainable project possible. In addition to stream design, other services that will be provided include water quality monitoring support, public education, construction assistance, surveying, and landscape architecture.

The South Creek Channel Restoration project is supplemented by team partners Habitat Architects and Dr. Robert Pavlowsky of Missouri State University. The project also involves several stakeholders, including the James River Basin Partnership, Ozark Greenways, and the City of Springfield.

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