SALEM — The town and the state Department of Transportation are teaming up with a Massachusetts agency on a unique project aimed at shoring up a flood-prone part of Salem.
The mitigation project is an off-shoot of the Interstate 93 widening project and includes pumping wastewater from a 5-acre area off Haigh Avenue — a neighborhood devastated by severe flooding.
The town and DOT agreed Monday to allow the state to pump water from the low-lying area to Salem's wastewater treatment plant.
The wastewater would then be treated by the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District, which has a 30-year contract with the town.
The treated water would then be discharged into the nearby Spicket River, according to Peter Stamnas, project manager for the I-93 widening project. The state will pay Salem $1,000 for every 1 million gallons treated.
The state would use the town's plant over the next three months as a backup to its own treatment system, Stamnas said.
"In the end, it will be an improvement for everyone," Stamnas said yesterday. "We are going to create more floodplain storage."
The project includes the creation of a 1,300-foot channel on the property, Stamnas said. The work also involves the restoration of approximately 2,200 feet of nearby Policy Brook.
DOT representative Jay Levine, the I-93 project coordinator said the work will begin about mid-July.
The project, also funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been in the planning stages for years as part of plans to lessen wetland impacts from the I-93 widening from Salem to Manchester.
It included FEMA's purchase and demolition of nearly two dozen homes in the flood-plagued neighborhood, beginning in 2010.
The owners sold their homes near the Spicket River and Policy Brook to the government.
Grass now grows where the homes once stood. There is little evidence that nearly half a neighborhood once stood there — homes plagued by springtime flooding for at least three decades.
The neighborhood was particularly hit hard by the infamous Mother's Day flood in 2006,
The paved road that once passed through the neighborhood now ends suddenly. It's surrounded by a chain-link fence and a sign says, "Road Closed."
Stamnas meet with Salem selectmen and Town Manager Keith Hickey on Monday night to outline the project.
Selectmen unanimously approved the agreement with the state. The Greater Lawrence Sanitary District has endorsed the project as well, Hickey said.