The Argentine, Armourdale and Central Industrial District areas in Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri form a crucial transportation hub key to the movement of goods throughout the nation. The area has experienced frequent and even disastrous floods, with the most recent threat reaching a few inches below some levee units. In the aftermath of that event, local levee owners and other stakeholders, in collaboration with the US Army Corp of Engineers, determined that improvements to the levees must be made to ensure that they met current USACE design and safety criteria.

Providing design and planning services, HNTB was engaged to work jointly with USACE to create flood risk management solutions with minimal impact on rail companies, a daunting task given the scale of the associated operational, financial and scheduling considerations. Collaborative planning and government relations services decreased the project timeline and lead to full funding of the project while prompt, clear and precise feedback drove thoroughly and mutually informed submittals and communications. Identifying constraints early on allowed the development of robust and fully informed mitigation strategies, and HNTB’s scope was expanded to include complex stop log closure design.

Altogether the project is raising and improving 17 miles of levees and replacing two pumping stations. Approximately 300 relief wells will be installed, and over 200 utilities will be relocated or modified across and under five existing mainline tracks. 12 closure structures will be constructed across tracks owned and operated by the BNSF and Union Pacific railroads and the Kansas City Terminal.

The KC Levees flood risk management project has improved the reliability and resiliency of these crucial levee and floodwall barriers. It reduced the likelihood of flooding – and its impact on $9.5B in infrastructure and the approximately 30,000 people who live and work in the area – by 200%, as well as investing and improving one of the nation’s most critical warehouse, distribution, transportation and railroad hubs.

Location: Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS

Client: US Army Corp of Engineers Kansas City District

Read more: Elevating For the Future, Designer article