East Dallas Project Could Relieve Flooding


An image of the Mill Creek tunnel | Image by City of Dallas.

East Dallas faces flooding problems whenever the city is hit with excessive rain, but a stormwater project to alleviate flooding is in development.

Construction on the five-mile Mill Creek Drainage Relief Tunnel began in 2018, but it is not scheduled to be completed until fall 2025, according to a statement sent to The Dallas Express by City public information officer Page Jones.

City said the tunnel “will provide drainage and flooding relief to areas of East Dallas including the areas around Baylor Hospital, south of Buckner Park, and Fair Park.”

“It will also provide drainage and flooding relief to the Woodall Rodgers area near State-Thomas and Victory Park,” the statement continued. “The drainage tunnel will reduce flooding and protect 3,200 acres, 2,200 properties and over $4 billion in property value.”

NBC 5 reported that covers were removed on Thursday from some stormwater inlets that will eventually connect to the tunnel.

Dallas received an unprecedented amount of rain in August 2022, up to 15 inches in some locations, which overwhelmed homes and businesses in East Dallas.

City officials said the National Weather Service did not properly prepare Dallas for the amount of rain it received.

“There was no additional communication from the National Weather Service of the amount of rain that we ultimately saw,” Rocky Vaz, the City’s emergency management director, said during a September briefing.

The water drainage system was not equipped to properly drain the August rain, but that issue could be fixed by the Mill Creek Tunnel.

“I just want to ensure that … we’re doing everything possible to prevent this from happening a fifth, sixth, seventh time,” said Council Member Jesse Moreno in the briefing.

Workers have finished boring the tunnel, but connections to the surface will not be finished for another two years, according to NBC 5. The boring machine has been removed from the tunnel.

The City told The Dallas Express that workers would begin lining the tunnel with 15-inch-thick concrete next month, which will also take two years to complete.

“The overall project including drainage connections to the areas surrounding the tunnel is estimated to be completed in Fall 2025,” the City said, adding that the tunnel is the first phase of a larger storm drainage and flooding relief plan in East Dallas.

After this tunnel is complete, the City said it would work to improve existing drainage systems in Mill Creek, Peaks Branch, and East Peaks Branch.

“These future improvements are extensive and will take many years to engineer and construct,” the statement concluded.

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