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Posted 2/28/2018

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By James F. Lowe
Kansas City District, Public Affairs Office

Construction is closing on the first construction contract award for the gatewell structure at Station 325+01 on the right bank – the west bank –  with the second construction contract commencing for the Brown’s Branch gatewell structure on the left bank. 2018 will be a very busy year for design and kicking off of multiple construction contracts supporting levee improvements in the St. Joseph, Mo., area.

 “We are committed to the communities of St. Joseph, Elwood and Wathena to deliver the projects in a timely manner especially since the project was fully federally funded in 2017 with nearly $42 million received.  The partnership with project sponsors and stakeholders has been key, with nearly half of the sponsor cost share already being provided to date,” said Craig Weltig, civil works project manager for the St. Joseph levee improvement for the Kansas City District.

R471-460 GATEWELL AT STATION 325+01. The first phase of the overall levee system construction project is scheduled to be completed in February of 2018 and is extremely important to our non-federal sponsors and stakeholders.  Hill Brothers Construction, Inc. has been hard at work removing the old gatewell structure, constructing a larger, more efficient structure, while also providing temporary protection to the mainstem levee while the structure is under construction.

L-455 BROWN’S BRANCH GATEWELL. The second construction contract to get underway is for the Brown’s Branch Gatewell Structure on the left bank.  The contract was awarded to Meyer Contracting, Inc. for a little over $3 million.  Mobilization to the site will occur in the beginning of 2018.  The 18-month construction project will provide Brown’s Branch with the necessary main-stem levee risk reduction that will tie into the next left bank levee raise project.  

DESIGN OF L-455. The USACE in-house product development team is continuing design of the left bank levee raise.  Challenges with obtaining approvals from the railroad lead to the decision of having multiple construction contracts for the left bank.  The team is currently working on finalizing the levee raise for L-455 and starting the gate closure structure design for the crossing of the dual Union Pacific Railroad tracks and the single Burlington Northern Santa Fe track.  The team is dedicated to providing a full design that includes construction drawings, specifications and a design documentation report.

DESIGN OF R471-460 LEVEE RAISE. The USACE in-house product development team started design of the right bank levee unit in the fall of 2017.  The underseepage berms are currently being laid out, the in-house drill crew has started drilling the pilot holes to help aide in the relief well design.  Coordination is starting to occur with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Roscrans Memorial Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration for the potential use of agricultural lease properties on the southern portion of the project to use for borrow and construction for mitigation needs.  The team will provide a full design that includes construction drawings, specifications and a design documentation report for the overall project.

The St. Joseph sponsors and stakeholders –Elwood-Gladden Drainage District, St. Joseph Airport Levee District, South St. Joseph Drainage District, City of St. Joseph, Buchanan County, State of Missouri, Rosecrans Memorial Airport, local businesses and land owners- collectively continue open discussions that include teleconferences, small group meetings, or large meetings including state and national political staffers. This project is extremely important to the local community and that is reflective in the attention it receives from their respective congressional delegation.  This is readily apparent with the Buchanan County ¼ cent sales tax that was overwhelmingly passed by the public in August 2016 and the $4.2 million in non-federal cost share provided this year.

Steve Johnston, director of the Community Alliance of St. Joseph, said, “This project is truly an example of collaboration at its finest.  Protecting over 6,000 quality jobs from multiple businesses protected by the levee in addition the 139th Airlift Wing of the Missouri National Guard provides stable and economic growth for our future.  We are appreciative to all of our stakeholders on the national, state and local levels.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has provided the solid framework, expertise and leadership for this vital initiative.”

Editor's note: Many thanks to the partners involved not only this past year, but also for all of the decades that many have dedicated in making the MRLS R471-460 & L-455 Flood Damage Reduction Project a success.  The $70 million project is scheduled to span four years with the non-federal sponsors providing a 35 percent share, with assistance from state and local governments, fully leveraging the 65 percent federal share.

levee levee construction St. Joseph