KANSAS CITY, Kans. – The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas is addressing severe road and stormwater drain issues following numerous reports by FOX4.
Neighbors have been complaining about the various issues for years and as recently as this week.
They claim some roads are so bad that they’re a safety hazard, and flooding is killing trees and grass in residential backyards.
The latest complaints were documented on N. 33rd Street.
“I saw the people on 33rd Street, and it broke my heart because I went through the same thing. I am going through the same thing,” Leticia Macias said.
Macias said emotions from FOX4’s report on more KCK drainage issues brought tears to her eyes, knowing her and her neighbor’s story is not unique.
Her home in the Argentine neighborhood flooded four times along with neighbors, and led to a class action lawsuit against BNSF Railroads and the Unified Government.
In the lawsuit, they allege “BNSF knowingly dumped debris in the creek,” and that the UG was negligent by “allowing conditions to exist,” which together caused the flooding.
“It could have been prevented. It’s heartbreaking because it’s really basic things that are not being taken care of. I’m not clear why there’s not a greater urgency to take care of it,” said attorney Gerald Lee Cross Jr., who is representing Macias and some of her neighbors.
Officials in KCK describe the issues as being more widespread than these two areas, but they said it’s a serious and citywide issue they began tracking years ago.
“Like many cities across the country, there’s been decades of disinvestment in infrastructure, so it’s beginning to create a lot of problems in this community and many others,” UG Public Works Director Jeff Fisher said.
According to Fisher, the dilemma is lack of money and an extreme backlog of maintenance.
According to a Public Works presentation, KCK has an average road pavement condition of 53. According to the Pavement Condition Index, that’s about the beginning of “poor” condition, requiring reconstructive measures. And that’s just the city’s average.
Road repair projects are estimated to cost $20 million a year; that’s $7 million more than what’s allocated and $10 million for the storm water drains.
A proposal estimates full repairs would take at least a decade. The department currently searching for the funds to do it.
“We are probably nowhere near frustrated as the folks are out there, but we are public servants, we are here to help them and we can’t. Staff does get frustrated,” Fisher said. “We hear you, we understand, we care. There are a lot of public servants really working hard to figure out what those strategies and solutions are, and we fully intend to act on that as soon as we can.”
Fisher said they want to do a better job of tracking problems and specific areas and encourage people to call 311 to report issues dealing with roads and storm drains.
FOX4 will keep tracking the situation.