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Jacksonville leaders break ground on Lasalle Street pump station in San Marco

The pump station will help combat the frequent flooding concerns along San Marco Boulevard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A new effort is being put forth to combat flooding in one of the most flood-prone areas of Jacksonville.

Flooding from rainfall and the St. Johns River often impacts homes and businesses in San Marco.

During Hurricane Irma, several businesses along San Marco Boulevard were forced to shut their doors after getting more than a foot of water inside. Some never reopened.

This week, city leaders broke ground on a new pump station on Lasalle Street. Before crews started the project, they needed to buy a specific piece of property, which cost the city roughly $900,000. 

But the city of hoping the expense will benefit residents in the long run. 

The Lasalle pump station may not look like much now, in fact, it never really will look like too much since most of it will be underground. But when it's in, it could have a huge impact on a chunk of San Marco where storms and flooding seem to go hand in hand.

A light, Wednesday afternoon thunderstorm leaves pools of water on San Marco Boulevard. But when a storm comes through, its a different story.

"With Irma, it took us 10 weeks to rebuild," said Flame Broiler Traveling Manager Laura Hedgecock. "The good news is that we did rebuild, and we're here now."

It doesn't even take a storm like Hurricane Irma to cause problems.

Hedgecock says she couldn't even make it to The Flame Broiler to check on the business after Hurricane Nicole hit in November.

She has video of one of her employees tip-toeing on the curb while simply trying to take out the trash.

"They [Hurricanes Ian and Nicole] lasted a day, but we remained closed a couple of days because the water was close up to the doors because cars and foot traffic were not able to come through this way on San Marco Boulevard," said Hedgecock.

The days of The Flame Broiler having to close for days on end any time severe weather hits may be numbered.

The new pump station on Lasalle Street will help keep water moving.

"The anticipation is that we can draw down a lot of the stormwater within the basin within 30 to 45 minutes," said Project Developer Joe Kantor.

Kantor says San Marco Boulevard already has two pump stations, one on Children's Way by the hospitals and another further South, but the Lasalle basin is its own animal.

The new pump will help all the folks living and working from Cedar Street down to Landon Park. People like Hedgecock.

"The water draining faster will help everyone I'm sure in getting back to their businesses, and make the money," said Hedgecock.

The project developer says you can expect to start seeing those work trucks come through the area in June, and it'll take 18 months to build.

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