A groundbreaking event occurred Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 for the first of four phases of the overall St. Joseph levee project. The City of St. Joseph, Mo., and Buchanan County hosted the event for project sponsors and stakeholders adjacent to the MRLS R471-460 levee unit northeast of Rosecrans Memorial Airport.
The first $1.5 million phase will completely replace the existing gatewell and 6 foot by 5 foot reinforced concrete box drainage structure located at levee station 325+01. The gatewell serves interior drainage for Rosecrans Memorial Airport, Browning Lake and adjacent areas. This phase is expected to be completed by October 2017.
Funding for the entire $70 million project is cost shared 65 percent federal and 35 percent local. The local funding, totaling approximately $26 million, will consist of $5 million from the state, approximately $8 million from the city, county and levee districts, and $11 million will come from the voter approved quarter-cent Buchanan County sales tax initiative that overwhelmingly passed in August 2016.
The second phase will include improvements to the L-455 unit that protects the Stockyards industrial area, home to more than 100 businesses and public facilities accounting for an estimated $2.3 billion in investment and 6,000 jobs. Major companies in the area, several of them manufacturers that are among the region’s largest employers, include Triumph Foods, Daily’s Premium Meats, National Beef Leather, Albaugh, VP Buildings, Johnson Controls, Blue Sun Refining and Nor-Am. Two major critical facilities, the St. Joseph Water Pollution Control Plant and the Kansas City Power and Light’s Lake Road Generating Station, are also located here. During the 2011 Missouri River flood event, this levee unit experienced greater than 75 percent loading for several weeks as it protected these large employers as well as the city’s water supply, wastewater treatment and power infrastructure.
The third and fourth phases will improve the R471-460 levee unit adjacent to Rosecrans Memorial Airport, home to the 139th Airlift Wing of the Missouri Air National Guard. Past flooding caused the unit to relocate its planes to other locations. Concerns about future flooding have raised questions about moving the unit to another home base, and prevent the Guard base from major expansion.
There is great support for the project based upon all of the officials and stakeholders represented at the groundbreaking ceremony.
“We know how involved the project sponsors have been with this project and the help that they have provided in getting the project off of ground from conception, ever since the 1993 flood,” said Craig Weltig, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District. “It was also good to see the level of participation from the community based upon the 77 percent support in passing the sales tax.”