As Infrastructure Week comes to a close, experts will continue to gather around the country to discuss our nation’s crumbling transportation, waterway, and energy systems. Kansas City has much to contribute to this conversation.
Like the rest of the country, our infrastructure challenges extend well beyond potholes and highway repairs, and include much-needed improvements to avoid and control flooding.
Missouri tied at third place for the most major flooding disasters in the country between 2008 and 2017, requiring nearly $600 million in assistance from the federal government. We need only look back to last year to find significant flooding that inundated roads, damaged homes and closed businesses.
Flood waters don’t care where you live or what political party you support. That’s why I’ve joined a bipartisan group of more than 250 other elected leaders spanning all 50 states in support of the Flood-Ready Infrastructure Statement of Principles, which are:
▪ Improve resiliency requirements for buildings and infrastructure systems built before and after flood-related catastrophes.
▪ Enhance the use of natural defenses in planning and preparedness.
▪ Reduce unsustainable development in high-risk areas.
Kansas City recently completed the Middle Blue River Green Solutions pilot project, which can capture over 300,000 gallons of storm water through initiatives like converting asphalt into green space and rain gardens.
We also used $150 million (with another $38 million in federal assistance) of our recent $800 million bond infrastructure package to finally address the Blue River/Dodson Industrial Project and the Turkey Creek flood control project that will use nature-based solutions and improved storm water infrastructure to absorb and divert flood waters.
My bipartisan colleagues and I urge Congress to incorporate these flood-ready principles into their efforts to modernize and repair our decaying infrastructure. This will protect our communities and save taxpayer dollars by increasing the resilience of new construction, encouraging the use of natural flood mitigation solutions, and promoting solutions that reduce unsustainable development in the most at-risk areas.
Sly James is mayor of Kansas City.