The Mohave Wash flood control project, in the works for several years, is proceeding, with construction expected to start early next year.
"We will be an ongoing project, I'd say two to three years," said Philip Wisely, a civil engineer intern in the Mohave County Flood Control District.
The district bought the homes of more than 40 property owners along Adams, Irving, Pinal and Roosevelt streets, and needs to condemn six or seven properties in which the owners have refused to sell, county officials said.
"The final procedures (for condemnation) are being processed," deputy civil county attorney John White said.
"It's a routine matter."
White said he has no idea how long the condemnation process will take in Superior Court for the district.
The district is trying to clear the land to make way for a mile-long stretch of a new flood control channel, with box culverts, from Northern Avenue to Gordon Drive.
It previously acquired about 40 properties for $1.4 million, and sold the homes and other structures during auctions that took place last November and in March.
Some homes remain in the project area, including those purchased during the auctions.
Seven homes line the 4000 block of Irving in the project area immediately north of the wash, and some of the homes are occupied.
Eight homes contain asbestos, Wisely said.
He added the county will need to hire somebody to remove the asbestos, a toxic material when inhaled which was used as fire protection.
Meanwhile, county crews installed "no trespassing" signs in front of purchased homes and vacant lots to discourage vandalism.
Other homes along Irving and the other streets are outside the project area and will stay, he said.
Toby Julian said he and his wife, Kim, recently moved from Alta, Iowa, to a double-wide modular home in the 4100 block of Irving to enjoy their retirement.
They live across the street from cleared lots posted with the no trespassing signs.
Julian, a retired mortgage banker, said he was unaware at first about the Mohave Wash project, and fully supports it.
"It's all right," he said.
"They are going to move those (houses) out.
It will give us an unobstructed view."
Julian said he understands the need for flood control, having served as a civil engineer for the Riverside (Calif.) Flood Control and Water Conservation District from 1959 to 1964.
Periodical flooding prompted county officials to propose the Mohave Wash project.
The owners of 41 homes reported flood damage following summer storms in 2001, Wisely said.
Wisely said the flood control project, which will cost the county an estimated $7.1 million, will be built in three phases.
The first phase involves building a new channel of the wash early next year along Northern Avenue and Bank Street along with box culverts at those locations to provide all-weather access on the roads, Wisely said.
At the same time, the county will demolish the remaining homes and structures and remove the asbestos.
Wisely said the second phase entails relocating utilities and changing the alignments of streets that cross the wash: Adams, Pinal, Roosevelt, Irving, Arizona and Sierra Vista.
The realigned streets will be converted into cul de sacs or circles.
"None of these streets are going to cross the wash anymore," he said.
Wisely said the final phase involves going out to bid for a contractor to cut a channel between Bank and Gordon.
He said the county plans to pay for the project from the countywide flood control tax of 50 cents on every $100 in assessed valuation.
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