Kansas City officials on Wednesday afternoon kicked off the final leg of a $ 529 million project to improve 17 miles of dikes along the Kansas and Missouri rivers.
Called the KC Levees program, construction is underway to protect 32 square miles from flooding. The region is home to 7,000 structures – commercial, industrial and residential – representing $ 25 billion in investments.
Leaders in the region celebrated the project, calling it a major investment that will have even greater returns by protecting the community and opening the door to further economic development. And they pointed to the catastrophic floods that hit the region in past years, namely the Great Flood of 1993 and the Great Flood of 1951, as signs of the need for such protection.
Raising the dike is expected to reduce the risk of flooding along the Kansas River by about 200 percent, said Lt. Col. Travis Rayfield of the US Army Corps of Engineers, who was responsible for the civil engineering of the project. During construction, there will be over 200 relocated or altered utility hookups and over 1.3 million cubic meters of soil will be moved – the equivalent of filling the Hyvee Arena five times – while synchronizing the project in the country’s second-largest rail hub, Rayfield said.
“The technical challenges are high and our schedule is fast,” said Rayfield. “This is exciting work for the Body.”
Construction of the Missouri River dike system began in 2019 and the full project is expected to be completed by 2026. Future developments of the dike system are concentrated in the Central Industrial District, which includes the West Bottoms in Kansas City, and travels along Kansas. river through the Districts of Armourdale and Argentina in Kansas City, Kansas.
The project will increase the levees up to 4 feet along the rivers. The drainage works will be modified and relief wells will be installed. And some pumping stations will be removed and others added or repaired.
Kansas City, Kansas Mayor David Alvey recalled in a public address Wednesday that he visited the gymnasium at El Centro Academy in Argentina recently – a trip back to his former elementary school. The building, built in 1940, was said to have been under 15 feet of water during the destructive flood of 1951, he said, noting “the devastation” of that time.
“It could have been something that really shattered the spirit of the community,” Alvey said. “But in fact, it isn’t. In fact, they came together to say that we want to rebuild, we want to restore, we want to keep growing.
Alvey said the seawall project, which received $ 453 in federal grants, would be too burdensome for local governments to manage on their own. And he said he expects the investments to trigger new developments, provide a better connection to cities on both sides of the state border, and “bring us closer to our past (and) our future.” .
“That’s what the infrastructure is for,” he said.
US Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District called it “inspiring” to see the work in progress. And she said the destructive floods of the past are all too well known to those who have lived in the community for generations.
“When the infrastructure breaks down, everyone knows it. When infrastructure succeeds, everyone succeeds – whether or not we realize the role infrastructure has played in it, ”said Davids, Democrat and vice chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas called the project “extremely exciting.” And he hopes it’s “a sign of what more we can do” as talks continue on further development of the West Bottoms neighborhood.
As the project progresses, Lucas said it was important “not to forget about your past, training and foundation.”
“I think you all played a part in bringing us here today. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to sit here on a sunny day and watch the progress. It’s not something we always get the chance to do in local government, ”Lucas said.
This story was originally published October 13, 2021 9:23 pm.