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April 3, 2014

Council committee endorses replacing ancient water and sewer lines under KC streetcar project

Water department officials told the panel that it makes sense to replace all the water mains and rehabilitate all the sewers under the downtown streetcar route. And, they said, it makes sense to do the $23.6 million in work while the streets are already torn up for streetcar construction.

Downtown Kansas City’s water and sewer mains could be artifacts for “Antiques Roadshow.”

Digging up a water main in front of City Hall this year, crews found a date stamp of 1874. The average installation date for downtown’s cast iron water mains was 1900. Some stone sewers downtown were installed just after the Civil War, and the average installation date was 1883. When the mains break, as they frequently do, the result is flooding and costly damage.

So water department officials told a City Council panel Thursday that it makes sense to replace all those mains and rehabilitate all the sewers under the downtown streetcar route. And, they said, it makes sense to do the $23.6 million in work while the streets are already torn up for streetcar construction.

The council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee endorsed a plan to spend $14.1 million replacing water mains and $9.5 million replacing or relining sewer mains along the streetcar route through River Market and on Main Street to Union Station. The measure goes to the full council next Thursday.

City officials emphasized that the money will not be spent directly for the streetcar project. Water and sewer funds, by law, must be spent on water and sewer work.

“The city will not be transferring money from the water and sewer fund to pay for the streetcar,” Assistant City Manager Pat Klein told the committee. “The infrastructure would need to be replaced anyway within a few years. It is being paired with the streetcar project to ensure that the work is completed before the streetcar is constructed and to minimize the time that Main Street is under construction.”

Klein said that once the city utility work is completed, “we anticipate no significant repairs will be needed for 75 years.”

The money will come from a 2013 water bond sale and a 2012 sewer bond sale that voters had previously authorized.

Andy Shively, engineering officer for the Water Services Department, said the work has been bid. The water main work will be done by Redford Construction and the sewer work by Kissick Construction.

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