In time for Christmas, new owners receive land title and $211 million for clean up
By John Sharp
Ownership of the vacant Bannister Federal Complex has been transferred to a private redeveloper, Bannister Transportation & Development (BT&D), and preparations for demolition of buildings on the approximately 225-acre site were expected at press time to begin the week of December 11-15.
Demolition work will start with three small buildings on the west end of the site, according to Kevin Breslin, a principal owner of BT&D who is in charge of the project.
Breslin said in an interview that after asbestos is removed from the interior of the buildings they will be demolished. An interim stormwater detention basin to hold possibly contaminated runoff until it seeps through carbon filters will be constructed on the site of those buildings, he said.
Altogether, Breslin said, about 4.4 million square feet of structures will be demolished at the site – everything except a Kansas City Power & Light substation on the west side of the complex and a groundwater treatment facility on the east side – to ready it for redevelopment primarily as an industrial park after contamination is cleaned up.
The complex, much of it originally used to manufacture aircraft engines during World War II, became vacant after federal agencies relocated to newer and more cost-effective facilities.
Employees of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that used much of the complex for the manufacture of nonnuclear components of nuclear weapons were relocated to the new National Security Campus on Botts Rd. north of 150 Highway in 2014. General Services Administration employees were relocated to downtown offices in early 2015. The last federal agency to leave the site was the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration that relocated to a Grandview site.
(The Marine Corps information technology data center in a newer facility east of the rest of the complex was not transferred to private ownership and will remain at the site.)
Breslin said BT&D is receiving about $211 million and title to the land from the NNSA for doing the demolition and cleanup. NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz has previously said it will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to transfer the property to a private developer that would handle the demolition and cleanup compared to what it would cost the federal government to do it on its own and keep ownership of the site which is no longer needed.
Funding for the project was included in the omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president earlier this year, and Missouri Governor Eric Greitens approved the transfer of the complex this fall.
Federal law prohibits the transfer of contaminated federal property without meeting rigorous oversight requirements including securing approval of the governor whose state is impacted. Oversight of contamination cleanup and disposal will be provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Breslin said demolition and cleanup of building and ground contamination at the site is estimated to take about four years, but he said he hopes it can be completed quicker. However, he explained it has to be a very slow and methodical process to assure the safety of workers and the surrounding community due to the extensive contamination at the site.
“It’s not the kind of work for beginners,” he said, noting that almost all the workers on the project will be union members who have received the proper training to safely deal with hazardous materials.
He said about 20 to 30 workers will be on site in December making preparations for demolition, and that more workers should start removing asbestos, beryllium, lead-based paint and PCBs from the manufacturing buildings in mid-January after appropriate safety measures are In place to prevent the spread of any contaminants.
Interior decontamination, Breslin said, will be conducted in sealed off areas by highly trained workers in full protective gear who will undergo decontamination when leaving the work areas.
This contaminated material will be taken by truck to hazardous waste landfills.
Larger demolition debris that is not contaminated and soil contaminated by fuel, PCBs and solvents dating back to when the site was used to manufacture aircraft engines which ceased in 1960 will be transported to appropriate landfills by rail, Breslin said.
Private firms hired to investigate contamination at the site earlier this year said soil contamination in places goes as deep as 40 feet and estimated about 40,000 cubic yards of soil, enough to fill about 600 rail cars, would have to be excavated.
Breslin said construction of the railbed for a new spur should start in late spring. He said an approximately 200,000 square-foot structure will be demolished beginning in early spring to make room for the spur.
He confirmed plans also call for installing barrier walls down to bedrock in some places to prevent contaminated groundwater from migrating off site, and sealing contaminated stormwater drainage pipes with concrete.
He estimated that about 250 to 350 persons will work on the project at some time during the demolition and remediation project.
Following demolition and cleanup, Breslin said he envisions the site becoming a job-producing industrial site that will contain 1.5 to 2 million square feet of warehouse/distribution and light manufacturing facilities that will employ about 1,100 to 1,400 workers. He explained the number of future employees at the site could increase significantly if one or more manufacturers locate there.
Breslin added that retail uses outside the flood wall along Troost also could be part of future development.
He said his firm plans to raise the elevation of the site to take it out of the flood plain before redevelopment begins.
CenterPoint Properties, a Chicago area firm with a regional office in North Kansas City, will serve as project manager for demolition and remediation at the site. Breslin said Chicago-based Brandenburg Industrial Service Co. that specializes in demolition and environmental remediation including asbestos abatement, hazardous material removal and soil remediation will perform the demolition and some aspects of site cleanup.
Local firms involved, he said, include Kissick Construction Co. that will be in charge of grading, stormwater management and utility installation and Superior Bowen Asphalt Co. that will subcontract with Kissick to perform the grading and raising of the site.
Breslin is scheduled to give more details about the project at a South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, December 14, at Faulkner’s Ranch, 10600 Raytown Rd. Persons wishing to attend may register at www.southkcchamber.com.
Team Picked for I-435 Improvements
Commuters who know westbound traffic on I-435 during morning rush hours and eastbound traffic during evening rush hours often slows to a crawl will be pleased that despite a severe funding shortage Missouri is moving ahead with capacity improvements for this busy highway.
The Missouri Highways & Transportation Commission on December 1 selected a team of two companies from among four competing teams to design and construct major improvements to I-435 between the Kansas state line and the Three Trails Crossing interchange at I-49 that should begin in the spring.
Improvements that will be part of this $75 million project called the I-435 South Loop Link include adding a lane in both directions between State Line Rd. and 104th St., replacing the bridges over Wornall and Holmes Roads, rehabilitating the bridges over the Blue River and 104th St., removing the loop ramps at the Holmes Rd. interchange, increasing the vertical clearance under the Wornall Rd. bridge, installing 12-foot inside shoulders and a taller and safer concrete barrier wall, repaving the highway, and constructing longer merge lanes.
The work being done as a “design-build” project which requires it all to be done within a fixed budget rather than being done the traditional and usually slower way of first designing the project and then taking bids for construction, is expected to be fully completed by late spring in 2020.
Wilson & Company, an Albuquerque based engineering design company with an office in south Kansas City by I-435, and Radmacher Brothers Excavating, a Pleasant Hill construction contractor, are the firms selected to design and build the improvements.
Matt Killion, area engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), told me that lane closures during construction should be limited to no more than one lane in each direction to minimize inconvenience to motorists.
Speaking at a December 1 joint legislative meeting of the South Kansas City and Grandview Chambers of Commerce, Killion said this portion of I-435 is the second most heavily traveled route in the area carrying over 138,000 vehicles per day.
The I-435 corridor was originally constructed in 1966 as a 6-lane freeway, and an additional lane was added in phases from 1983 to 1994. Only minor improvements have been done since then.
Killion has told me that this project is the biggest in MoDOT’s 5-year plan for the 9-county Kansas City District.
Smaller area highway projects scheduled for 2018 that Killion mentioned at the Chamber meeting include resurfacing I-49 from Blue Ridge to 163rd St., resurfacing U.S. 71 from I-670 to Bannister Rd., resurfacing I-435 from Stadium Dr., to Bannister Rd. and rehabilitating the eastbound I-470 bridges over the Little Blue River, View High Dr. and Cedar Creek.
Killion has also told me that minor repairs, patching and overlays on the I-470 bridges over Blue Ridge Blvd. and the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks will take place in 2018.
Area MoDOT projects completed this year include removing the 83rd St. bridge over I-435; rehabilitating the Raytown Rd. bridge over I-470, the Bannister Rd. (Highway W) bridges over the Blue River and Blue River Rd., and the westbound I-470 bridges over the Little Blue River, View High Dr. and Cedar Creek; replacing the Main St. bridge over I-49 in Grandview; and resurfacing I-470 from I-49 to Raytown Rd.
At press time, work on the new diverging diamond interchange at I-49 and 155th St. which features a roundabout on the east side and a pedestrian path across the bridge between the east and westbound lanes was essentially complete, although the bridge and eastside ramps were still closed. A ribbon cutting was scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, December 15, after which the bridge should be opened to traffic.
KCMO will allow residents to sit out curbside up to 15 bags of trash for no charge from Tuesday, December 26, through Saturday, December 30.
No hazardous waste, bulky items or leaves and brush may be included.