Manhattan levee awarded $18.4 million in federal funds for improvements

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MANHATTAN — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has notified the City of Manhattan that $18.4 million is being awarded in fiscal year 2019 to fund improvements to Manhattan’s levee system. The total cost of the project will be approximately $26 million and city officials will have several options to cover the remaining $7.5 million.

The levee system provides fortification to 1,600 acres of land, 7,600 residents and protects a total economic impact estimated at $1.2 billion. Manhattan Deputy City Manager Jason Hilgers says the project tells KMAN why these upgrades are so crucial.

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The project intends to raise the levee along the Big Blue River from the intersection of Casement Road and Hayes Drive, south to the confluence of the Kansas River and Big Blue River, and wrap around upstream to the just west of the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Once finished, the levee project will increase the level of protection from flooding events along the Blue and Kansas rivers, as well as replace several structures and equipment along the levee installed in the early 1960s. Hilgers adds it will cause some disruptions in that area.

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Hilgers says if the city can enhance and elevate to provide more security in the event of a 100-year flood, this improvement will be well worth it.

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Levee improvements will include an increase in height, ranging from 1.5 feet to 3.3 feet, removal and replacement of five gate well structures, and the addition of 29 relief wells with 4,900 linear feet of collector system and 2,500 linear feet of under seepage control berms to accommodate the levee raising.

City Manager Ron Fehr in a release thanked Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) for working with city officials to achieve the funding award. A study conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2014 confirmed the need for improvements to the levee system in order to provide protection for a 100 year flood event. FEMA defines a 100 year flood as an event that has a one percent likelihood in any given year. Since the initial study, the Corps. has conducted an eight-year feasibility study and the City of Manhattan has authorized design of the improvements with the Corps. The total for design costs was $1,723,000, with the Corps’ share being $1,120,000 and the City’s share being $603,000. The City used storm water funds as the matching revenue source for the project.

Construction is estimated to begin as soon as 2020 and is estimated to be completed by 2025. Linear Trail will remain on top of the levee and access to certain portions of the trail will be restricted during the construction phase.

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Brandon Peoples

KMAN News Director and host of In Focus. Contact Brandon at Brandon@1350KMAN.com

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