In Kansas City, a green infrastructure project boosts resilience while helping to restore a river and revitalize the city center

Infrastructure improvements don’t always happen underground. Sometimes they are on the surface and create a beautiful community amenity, as is now happening in Kansas City, Missouri.

KC Water’s Central Industrial District/West Bottoms Green Infrastructure project is a perfect example. It beautifies the city center and adds relaxing public spaces, helping to revitalize the area by adding to the quality of life. It also helps restore the nearby river by reducing combined sewer overflows (CSO). On top of all that, it builds the city’s resilience by reducing flood risk.

Under construction.

On October 22, 2020, the Kansas City Industrial Council selected KC Water to receive its Innovation Award for the Central Industrial District (CID)/West Bottoms Green Infrastructure project. This work, located in three areas in the West Bottoms, is a project built as part of the Smart Sewer program and is designed to keep stormwater out of the combined sewer system.

In the Riverview District, from Wyoming to Mulberry Street underneath the I-70 viaduct, engineers designed an infiltration system to catch rain water as well as an above ground collection system. The side will have scuppers to collect drainage from the I-70 deck and empty it into two cisterns below. The bike trail that runs along Inner City Viaduct Street will have bump-outs to go around the cisterns, a rest stop, and bike racks.

We worked closely with the Heritage Trail Association to inform them and let them give input on what they want to see down here,” said KC Water Engineer and Project Manager, Terry Godard.

This is a part of the Smart Sewer program where we are basically trying to separate storm water from the combined system,” he explained.

The nearly 10 million dollar project has been in the making since 2016. At the Warehouse and Stockyard Districts, near I-670 and Liberty Street, KC Water restored some of the original 100 year-old sett stones used in the roadway and combined them with new permeable surfaces.

This area, ideal for festivals and street markets, allows rainwater to soak through the ground. Nearby, an interactive boardwalk system that will allow the public to observe the native plants and the bio-swale collection system.

It will be a great place to sit on the boardwalk, have lunch and just enjoy the view and nature,” Godard added.

Here are some of the features:

  • Below an underpass near I-670 and Liberty Street, KC Water constructed a large brick permeable paver plaza that features a multi-use event space, a semi-covered meeting place, a flexible parking area, and stormwater tree planters. This area allows rainwater to soak through the ground through an innovative system of authentic fired clay brick permeable pavers;
  • Nearby, at the Liberty Street Green Space, stormwater runoff from rooftops and buildings flows to a bioswale and bioretention area surrounded by park-like landscape features consisting of a trail, a boardwalk system, and native trees, shrubs, and grasses. Additionally, 668 square feet of the project area’s original 100-year-old sett stones (similar in appearance to cobble stones) were re-purposed in the entrance to the new green space;
  • From Wyoming to Mulberry Street underneath the I-70 viaduct, a gravel infiltration system was installed adjacent to Intercity Viaduct Road and the Riverfront Heritage Trail to soak stormwater into the ground. In the same vicinity, an innovative rainwater harvesting system employs two above ground cisterns to capture rainwater from highway decks above to make it available for non-potable water reuse.

This project will help protect our community’s environment by reducing the amount of stormwater entering our combined sewer system, which will reduce combined sewer overflows,” said KC Water Director Terry Leeds. “We invest in green infrastructure projects like this one to help our community manage stormwater the way nature intended by capturing and utilizing rainwater where it falls.

I would like to thank our design and construction partners for their contributions to this project making Kansas City a better place to live, work, and play,” he added. “HNTB was the Design Professional and Kissick Construction served as the Contractor. I would also like to thank our Smart Sewer Program Manager, Burns & McDonnell for their help in guiding this work.”

KC Water received the award during KCIC’s 2020 Sustainability Awards Breakfast on October 22, 2020.

All image courtesy of KC Water.

See KC Water website.

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