South KC Perspective
Flood Wall/Levee Approved
By John Sharp
There has been a gap in the Blue River levee/flood wall system in this area for as long as I can remember. As I testified on July 19 before the Finance & Governance Committee of the City Council, two-thirds of a flood wall isn’t a flood wall. It’s just a waste of money.
Plans include closing the 6,800 foot gap with an earthen levee between Hickman Mills Dr. and the Bannister Federal Complex and completing the flood wall underneath the highway. The contract should go to bid in August and awarded in September, according to Tom Kimes, stormwater utility engineering manager for the City Water Services Department. He said hopefully a notice to proceed can be given to the selected contractor in November, and work could start as early as December, although it might be delayed until early spring.
The work should take about three years to complete, Kimes said.
Two-thirds of a flood wall isn’t a flood wall. It’s just a waste of money.
Federal funding for the project was included as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act passed by Congress and signed into law by then President Barack Obama last December. Then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers included $17,030,000 for the project in its 2017 work plan that was announced in June.
The city’s matching funds — $7,577,850 – are being advanced by the Water Services Department and will be paid back over the next three city fiscal years with two percent interest from proceeds from the $150 million in general obligation bonds for flood control projects approved by city voters in April.
The ordinance appropriating city matching funds for the project was passed unanimously by the City Council. It also included nearly $7.7 million to complete the Turkey Creek flood control project where flooding is still occurring in the vicinity of 31st St. and Roanoke. That amount matches over $21.5 million in federal funds.
Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner thanked both Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Congressman Sam Graves who represent different parts of Kansas City for their hard work to secure federal funding. And Mayor Sly James emphasized during discussion that without voter approval of the flood control bonds, the city would not have been able to provide the necessary matching funds to complete these projects.