Construction has begun on the Sanders Street drainage improvement project, with heavy equipment moving piles of earth to install infrastructure upgrades.

The primary goal of the project is to upgrade storm water collection and treatment according to Public Works Director Jerald Ward. The project involves Sanders Street, from Dogwood Drive to Stewart Street, with the core of the project by the Community Center on Byrom Street.

"Everything that's in there right now ends up in Locklin Lake," Ward said. "First and foremost, it's drainage improvements."

FEMA is contributing 75 percent of the $2.5 million project, while the city will be providing 25 percent from city revenues. The $625,000 coming from the city is generated primarily from sewer and storm-water impact fees.

Kenneth Horne & Associates designed the core of the project and the alignment of the engineering task. Brown construction was awarded the contract in February and began work in the middle of March. The project is expected to run nine months, according to Ward.

In addition to an upgraded drainage system, Sanders Street will receive enhancements to gas and water systems currently in place while the drainage is being addressed, said the public works director.

"Essentially, we can accommodate for the future for a very small price," Ward said.

The project will also address issues with Sanders Street. The road will be redesigned where it intersects at Byrom Street. The redesign will provide more space for off-road parking for Rhodes Elementary School and the future Dr. O.K. Mathews Tennis Complex.

"We were going to tear the roads up anyhow," Ward said. "So we took advantage of the project to incorporate the realignment."

Future enhancements included in the project at a later phase include the installation of curbs, gutters and sidewalks. There will be another access point to the community center and the entrance to Rhodes Elementary School's bus ramp will slightly changed.