Photo: This one-track rail overpass located near Blue Ridge Blvd and Grandview Rd will be replaced with two tracks and the two-lane road underneath with four lanes, including sidewalks on each side. Photos by Jill Draper
Construction of new railroad overpass leads to clean-up of nearby brownfield
By Jill Draper
Construction of a new $7.6 million railroad overpass on Blue Ridge Boulevard near Grandview Road should begin about a year from now, said Dennis Randolph, director of public works for Grandview. He expects to begin the bidding process in January or February 2021 for a project that will replace a one-track rail overpass with two tracks, and a two-lane road underneath with four lanes, including sidewalks on each side.
Half of the project is being funded by the Federal Railroad Administration with the remaining cost to be split between Kansas City Southern Railway and the City of Grandview.
In order to expand the road, the city acquired the old Rock City building supply site at 519 Blue Ridge Blvd. from the Jackson County Land Trust. Grandview officials won’t need the entire 4.2-acre parcel, however, and they hope to sell part of it afterward to developers. But there’s a problem. An abandoned office building caught fire there last November and the site may be contaminated with asbestos from the burned building, petroleum products from leaky diesel fuel tanks and parked vehicles, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, chemicals found in old transformer oil that can cause cancer) from an on-site power facility with older transformers.
Those conditions classify the property as a brownfield—abandoned or underused land that may require cleanup before it can be used for another purpose. So Randolph was happy to learn earlier in May that Grandview will receive an EPA grant estimated at $50,000 to $75,000 to pay for soil and groundwater samples at the site.
Grandview’s grant is part of $1.4 million in new EPA funds awarded to the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Mid-America Regional Council to investigate and clean up brownfield sites in the metro area.
According to Andrew Bracker, brownfields coordinator for KCMO, cleanup is needed in 50% to 75% of the sites that are tested. If the former Rock City site needs help, Grandview will use a special brownfields revolving loan fund to pay for it.
“In the end we’ll have a new bridge, Blue Ridge Boulevard will be fixed up and we’ll have this vacant property that will be cleaned up,” said Randolph. “It’s an example of the kind of positive project we like to see.”
Other sites in Jackson County that may be investigated as brownfields include the former 100-acre Kerr-McGee wood products treatment plant at 2300 Oakland and the former 900-acre Armco Steel plant near the mouth of the Blue River on the Missouri River, as well as older parts of Independence, Sugar Creek, Raytown and Lee’s Summit.
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