$453M in federal money coming to raise Kansas River levees, including those near KCK

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Memories of a springtime filled with flooding are still fresh for many.

In fact, metro floodwaters have not completely receded along the Missouri River in many locations.

On Monday, news came of a federal project meant to help protect urban landscapes by bolstering metro levees, specifically those along the Kansas River in Wyandotte County.

River levees like the one near the 12th Street Bridge in KCK's Argentine neighborhood are about to get a much needed facelift.

As part of a $453 million grant from the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County is about to begin raising levees to further protect areas north of the Kansas River from flooding.

Last summer, the U.S. Congress approved new federal funding for disaster relief, part of which was the final phase of Kansas City Levees Project.

Melissa Sieben, the Unified Government`s assistant administrator, told FOX4 News the work will begin in October, and stretch from the Argentine neighborhood through Armourdale and into West Bottoms, which is part of Kansas City, Missouri. Work is expected to last until 2024.

"We have residents and businesses throughout this entire area," Sieben told FOX4.

Sieben said she believes raising levees to protect from flooding at the 500-year level will keep everyone safer. Sieben said the current levees protect between the 100-200 year capacity at present performance.

This spring, scenes of flooding along metro rivers became common, as heavy rain, especially in May, left thousands concerned for their homes and businesses.

Sieben said floodwaters from the spring were a reminder of how serious this project is, but USACE work on levees specific to this project has been in effect since the 1990s.

She said the project has stopped and started at various points based on availability of federal funding.

"Not only will we enhance the flood protection along the levees on the Kansas River, but we will have also brought back to the community a hike-bike path along the river, and connections between the Missouri and Kansas side of the Kansas River," Sieben said Monday.

Added protection from flooding sounds good to Argentine business owners, including Jenny Gunter, who operates Midwest Palate.

He said she's seen the difference the Corps' work along the river has already made.

"They cut some trees and cleaned up the property next to the banks. That`s allowed for all the rain this spring to flow the way I think it was intended and not do any flooding at all. It`s never come up here to the levee," Gunter said.

And Gunter is one of many hoping to keep it that way.

"The levees in Kansas City protect major amounts of infrastructure. Over a billion dollars worth of infrastructure throughout Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, Riverside, Parkville and so on," Sieben said.

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