By James LoweNovember 5, 2019
KC Water hosted a groundbreaking ceremony in the Swope Park Industrial Area Friday, November 1, 2019.
This summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded an $18M contract for construction of levees, floodwalls, and interior drainage system to Medvolt Construction Services with the goal to complete the project by 2023.
Charlie Livers of the Swope Park Industrial Business Association, Kansas City, Mo. Councilpersons Ryana Parks Shaw and Lee Barnes, representing the 5th Council District; and, Col. Bill Hannan, commander of the Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spoke at the ceremony.
Col. Hannan, spoke on the partnerships that made these improvements possible. "We appreciate the support and collaboration received from our local non-federal sponsor, local Congressional delegations and local partner groups. We are ready to execute this final phase of construction and provide the Swope Park Industrial Area increased flood protection with reliable levees and floodwalls. We are ready to move dirt," said Hannan
"For many years, this area has coped with devastating flooding to the businesses in the Swope Park Industrial Area. I'm happy to announce that we can begin to put those days behind us with the construction of the final phase of this flood risk reduction project which will take a few years," said Terry Leeds, director of KC Water.
Back in August of 2017, a torrential rainstorm led to high-water evacuations here after the Blue River overflowed its banks. People watched on TV as rescue crews put workers in boats and waded them out of here.
"Thanks to all those who have taken the time to keep this project moving forward," said Livers, the president of Livers Bronze.
The industrial park serves as an economically vital business park comprised of various manufacturing facilities. You can imagine the damage, the loss of wages and loss of production for these businesses. This groundbreaking helped signify the final stages of significantly reducing that flood risk.
"As a small business owner myself, I understand how devastating it would be to see something you worked so hard to build wash away or become unusable. We can't stop torrential rainfall but we can do something to protect our investments our businesses, our livelihoods," said Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw.
Referring to the funding of the project, Councilman Lee Barnes praised the voters and government groups involved and stressed the project is really for the people who make up the Swope Park Industrial District - he wanted to give them most of the credit because they are the ones who've been most affected.
"This flood risk reduction system is made possible because of federal dollars but also by the voters of this city who approved General Obligation KC bonds for capital improvement projects," said Barnes. He thanked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and KC Water for selecting this 5th District area for these much needed improvements.
Leeds mentioned that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had funded approximately $23 million for this phase and Stormwater General Obligation KC bonds would pay for the remaining roughly $9 million. Leeds also summarized the city's plan to build a flyover bridge which will eliminate an at grade rail crossing and allow ingress and egress into and out of the Swope Park Industrial Area over the flood risk reduction system and over the railroad tracks. He recounted other improvements the city plans to make: several additional roadway improvements in this area including; a new 2-way roadway extension, sidewalks, storm sewer, and curbs and gutters.
Leeds reminded the crowd that this is another flood improvement project, among others, along the Blue River. In March of last year, we broke ground on the final phase of the Dodson Industrial Flood Protection Project.
The group moved over to the ceremonial groundbreaking and turned the dirt with shovels signifying the beginning of the final phase of improvements.