Government & Politics

Army Corps of Engineers funding to help complete crucial KC flood-control projects

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City announced Monday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2017 work plan includes funding to complete Blue River/Dodson levee and Turkey Creek flood-control projects.
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City announced Monday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2017 work plan includes funding to complete Blue River/Dodson levee and Turkey Creek flood-control projects.

Kansas City’s Turkey Creek and Dodson Industrial flood-control projects, which have been in the works for years, will finally be completed, thanks to more than $38 million in federal funds that are now assured.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and city officials announced the federal funding commitment Monday.

“This was a long-standing effort, and I’m pleased to help with funding to see these projects reach the finish line,” Cleaver said in a statement.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ 2017 work plan allocates $17 million in federal funds to complete the Blue River/Dodson Industrial project, which includes finishing a 6,800-foot levee floodwall and doing other improvements along the north bank of the Blue River, from the Bannister Road Federal Complex on the southwest (upstream) to U.S. 71 on the northeast (downstream). It will protect about 1,500 workers in the area and $380 million in property investment. The project area has experienced serious floods in 1951, 1961 and 1990 and less serious floods in 1958, 1977 and 1984.

The work plan also allocates $21.5 million in federal funds to complete the Turkey Creek project, which has involved channel widening, tunnel modifications and relocating bridges. The project area is located primarily along Interstate 35 and Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. It has been vulnerable to floods about every three to five years. This last-phase project will intercept stormwater from the vicinity of 31st Street and Roanoke and divert it to the Turkey Creek Channel just south of the Turkey Creek Tunnel in Kansas City, Kan.

John Holm of the Corps of Engineers’ civil branch said Monday, “The Corps, City staff, and stakeholders have diligently worked for several years to position these projects for final funding. We look forward to awarding the final construction contracts so that these projects provide the authorized flood damage reduction benefits to the citizens of our community.”

The cps plans to award the construction bids for both projects by the end of September, with construction slated to be completed within three years.

Federal funding usually covers 65 percent to 75 percent of a flood-control project’s cost, while local governments must come up with the rest. City officials said the local match is now possible because Kansas City voters in April approved up to $150 million in flood-control money as part of an $800 million, 20-year infrastructure bond authorization.

Announcement of the funding was welcome news to Scott Brown, a board member with the Kansas City Industrial Council, which has advocated fervently for flood-control improvements to benefit countless Kansas City businesses and residents.

“Kansas City Industrial Council has been fighting for these for many years,” Brown said. “Turkey Creek. My goodness, that’s been going on for so long. That really needed to be done.”

Brown said the Blue River/Dodson project was also crucial. “The levee is not complete, and when you have a levee that’s not done, it doesn’t offer a whole lot of flood protection.”

Water Services Director Terry Leeds said this was great news for the city and more than what his department was expecting.

“We didn’t think they would get that much money” in 2017, he said.

Mayor Sly James thanked voters for approving the general obligation bond funding in April that provides the local matching funds for these projects.

“This is a big win for the city of Kansas City,” James said in a statement. “The residents of Kansas City spoke loud and clear when they said they wanted improvements to our flood-control programs, and now, with this funding, these two projects will be completed on schedule.”

Lynn Horsley: 816-226-2058, @LynnHorsley

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