Construction at near 85th and Oak has many neighbors curious. Photo by Kathy Feist

Sewer project at 85th and Oak delayed

The planned improvements will seek to eliminate an estimated 2 million gallons of combined sewer overflow in South Oak Park “in a typical year”.

By Tyler Schneider 

Established in 2010, KC Water’s ambitious Smart Sewer Program is hailed as the largest infrastructure investment in Kansas City’s history. Celebrating its tenth year of a planned quarter-century lifespan, the latest set of projects includes an extensive bit of work that is currently underway in the South Oak Park neighborhood. 

This component of the Smart Sewer Program is known as the Diversion Structure 068 Detention Basin and Sewer Rehabilitation Project and runs along the Trolley Trail near the intersection of 85th and Oak Street. 

“The diversion structure will divert diluted peak wastewater flows during rainfall events into the Storage Basin,” says Heather Frierson, spokesperson with KC Water. “When the rainfall subsides, flow will drain back into the sewer. This helps take the load off of the downstream interceptor sewer during rainfall events reducing overflows.” The planned improvements will seek to eliminate an estimated 2 million gallons of combined sewer overflow in South Oak Park “in a typical year”. In order to achieve this goal, crews have been removing 40,000 tons of trash from the existing landfill in the park in order to create room for the detention basin itself. 

Originally budgeted at $7,832,186 and set for a December 2020 completion date, this leg of the effort to overhaul the city’s sewage and water drainage systems has been extended to December 2021. 

“The project is currently 85% complete.,” says Frierson.

Delays have been due to unforeseen excavation and removal of landfill wastes, inclement weather, unforeseen rock excavation, and Covid-19 impact on supplies, resulting in a current contract price of $8,049,325, according to Frierson.


A rendering of the basin and trolley trail enhancements at 85 and Oak St.  Courtesy KC Water

Additional aspects of the plan include trail enhancements meant to widen and resurface the walking trail. Two pedestrian bridges will also be added to extend the area’s portion of the Trolley Trail.

When construction is completed a buffer of trees will be replanted between the park and the facility. A permanent eight-foot fence will then be installed in the tree line as a safety precaution to keep park-goers away from the detention basin.

While work is underway, the city notes that citizens can expect the following near the site while crews are present:

  • Large equipment creating noise and dusty conditions
  • Odors from excavation of landfill waste
  • Temporary water service disruption
  • Temporary street and sidewalk closures
  • Temporary closures of the South Oak Park ball field; the playground will remain open
  • Temporary partial closures of the Trolley Track Trail

The project is being spearheaded by David L. Hauser, Project Manager at Burns & McDonnell, Luke Porter, Construction Project Manager at Kissick Construction and Srini Vallabhaneni, KC Water’s Smart Sewer Officer. 


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