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Brookfield says it will resolve deep ditch problem on Lothmoor Drive

Aug. 19, 2014

A nine-month-old issue over a ditch along Lothmoor Drive Upper may soon be resolved.

The depth of a ditch along the north side of the road has caused concerns for residents since last year, when the city's work on the road resulted in a decline with a 2-to-1 slope ratio. That means that the slope descends one foot for every two feet that it runs sideways. In addition to the depth of the decline, residents have expressed frustration disappointment at not being able to use riding lawn mowers due to the ditch.

City of Brookfield Director of Public Works Tom Grisa, City of Brookfield City Engineer Jeff Chase, and residents along Lothmoor Drive Upper have been considering ways to resolve the issue for months.

Grisa says that the city is going to move forward with an option that would have his department re-grade the ditch in order to change the slope from a 2-to-1 ratio to a 3-to-1 ratio.

"I won't say it's desirable, I won't say people are thrilled, but the last communication I had indicated that it seemed to be a reasonable alternative," Grisa said.

The problem is a consequence of basic road maintenance that resulted in an increase in height of around nine-tenths of a foot in certain parts of the street.

Chase noted that such increases are rare and that most of the street was raised substantially less.

"On average, the road through our maintenance was raised two inches. If the road had defects in it, it can result in significant local variations on the edge of the road," Chase said. "We can calculate with great accuracy what the average variance was."

Grisa noted that the ditch has helped to alleviate drainage problems in the front yards of residents along the street. Drainage has been a constant challenge in the neighborhood.

"There are legitimate concerns and issues about drainage and there have been since these houses were there and there will be after it is done," Alderman Scott Berg said. "It's not an ideal situation and it never has been."

Not all residents are pleased with the city's solution. At last week's Public Works Committee meeting, Bryan Preuss expressed his discontent.

"I understand that this works for some of the neighbors, this does not work for the majority of the neighbors," Preuss said.

Preuss suggested that the city lower the road in order to remove the ditch problem and avoid other complications; however, Grisa says that that is not a viable option.

"It would be extraordinarily invasive, much more expensive, (and) it's not really necessary," Grisa said. "It would be an inappropriate approach."

The complications, city officials say, are a result of the subdivision having been constructed over 60 years ago according to different standards.

"Before the '80's, anything that we built we built with rural cross sections and ditches. Now, we require an urban cross section with curb and gutter," Grisa said. "If you have curb and gutter, you wouldn't have a ditch because you're containing all the water."

Grisa also noted that an issue for Lothmoor Drive Upper is that many houses are significantly lower in elevation than the road, resulting in the drainage issues.

"In modern-day design standards for subdivisions, we would not allow the subdivision to be developed where you've got such a disparity between house elevation and road elevation," Grisa said.

City of Brookfield Public Works personnel will be responsible for the maintenance to the ditch and Grisa hopes to have work under way by early September at the latest. The process is expected to take approximately a week pending weather conditions.

"I'm a big believer of getting in and out," Grisa said. "Yank the tooth, don't wiggle it around."

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