Prairie Village City Council directs that low water crossings be removed; projects have been proposed over last 20 years

The low water crossing and warning signs at Delmar just south of 83rd Street.
The low water crossing and warning signs at Delmar just south of 83rd Street.

The low water crossings at Fontana and Delmar just south of 83rd Street will be removed if a project authorized by the city council earlier this month is carried out.

The Prairie Village City Council at its Sept. 6 meeting unanimously approved a project that would solve residential flooding and remove the two low water crossings. That discussion was planned even before a car was swept down the stream during a late August storm. The council had talked about the project in March.

Prairie Village Public Works Director Keith Bredehoeft presented the council with two options . The second option would have delayed the water crossing project into the future and put up new warning signs until that time. The council chose the option of moving ahead with a major project to resolve the problem.

The low water crossings, according to information Bredehoeft presented to the council, have been on the radar since 1984 when the city developed a storm water master plan. In 1996, the city did a feasibility study and public works proposed removing the crossings. However, the project was tabled, Bredehoeft reported, because there was no support for it. Later attempts to resurrect a project also failed.

Neighbors have not supported previous plans to remove the crossings, Bredehoeft said. He plans to hold at least two meetings with neighbors in the area this fall to talk about the new project and ideas for solving the problem. Right now, two options that are on the table involve putting in culverts under the streets or creating cul-de-sacs so traffic does not cross the streams.

“”It is still going to be a challenging project,” Bredehoeft said. “If it was a simple solution it would have been done a long time ago,”

He estimates the channel would need to be 3 feet deep and 20 feet wide to accommodate the stormwater. That would require removing some trees and possibly acquiring easements the city does not have now. The city would plant as many trees as the neighbors want to restore the area after construction, he said.

The earliest a project could go under construction would be 2018. New warning lights could go up in the interim to warn cars of high water.

Over the years, at least three or four cars have been swept down the stream. One was 1998 when a teenage girl escaped by kicking out the rear window. The latest was the August incident this year.