By Brannen ParrishOctober 23, 2019
The Arkansas City Emergency Management Office and Public Works conducted an exercise of a closure structure to the Arkansas City Levee October 9.
The closure structure is located on U.S. Highway 166 which runs perpendicular to the levee and crosses the Arkanssa River. A closure structure, allows for traffic to traverse the levee.
Stop log recesses and a center post recess I in the middle of the highway allow traffic to traverse the Arkansas River via the 166 Bridge in normal conditions.
In the event of flooding, city workers place a center post in the middle of the road and install temporary stop longs to prevent floodwaters from entering the city.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District constructed three portions of the levee between 1997 and 2006. Other portions were completed by the Kansas Department of Transportation in 1998.
The structure stretches 9.8 miles in a horseshoe-like loop around Arkansas City reducing flood risk for approximately 4000 residents, 2300 structures and more than $335 million in property.
The original bridge, constructed in the 1930s, is currently being replaced and Arkansas City was able to use the road closure to their advantage in testing the structure.
Robert Frazee, Emergency Manager for Arkansas City, said the structure is an important resource in flood risk reduction for the area.
"I don't think people realize what kind of investment the City and the Corps made, when they constructed this levee," said Frazee. "It's going to be an asset for years to come."
The Arkansas City levee has three closure structures. The city is required to exercise the closure structures every five years to ensure city workers know how to install the stop logs safely and efficiently. This exercise marks the third time that this closure structure has been tested.
"There's probably only three people who have ever seen this done," said Frazee who has more than 30 years of experience in the emergency management field.
According to Jordan Holmes, Levee Safety Program Manager, Tulsa District maintaining relationships with levee sponsors is part of the Corps of Engineers' approach to levee safety program management.
"They asked us to be present for the exercise and we appreciate that they want us to be there to observe their efforts," said Holmes. "It's important to conduct these tests to ensure everyone knows how to set up the stop logs."
Although the Arkansas City Levee is relatively new Frazee said levee sponsors can't afford to get complacent with levee maintenance.
"It takes continuous maintenance. You need to go in and clean out drainage structures that get silted in, the toe drains. We've got pump maintenance, the guys go around and check the oil and test the pumps to make sure they work properly," said Frazee. "I try to get out and drive the entire levee system at least once every two weeks."