The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $23.9 million in federal funds for the long-anticipated Upper Turkey Creek levee project, a major step in combating flooding issues that have bedeviled the city and downtown Merriam businesses for decades.
Why it matters: The Army Corps funding is part of a broader effort to remove downtown Merriam — including residences and businesses — from the floodplain.
- Flooding issues have long discouraged investment in new and existing businesses in that area because of regular flooding along Turkey Creek.
- A spokesperson for Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids’ office told the Post via email that the federal funding will go toward construction of levees and barrier walls to help prevent flooding.
- The $23.9 million was part of a massive $1 trillion infrastructure bill that passed Congress with bipartisan majorities last year and was signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Key quote: “With this additional funding, the city can continue its efforts with the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate future flooding in downtown Merriam as they begin designing the Upper Turkey Creek levee and flood walls,” Mayor Bob Pape said in a statement to the Post. “Once the levee is complete, it will not only protect private property and increase safety, but will also spur additional investment in downtown Merriam.”
Background: In 2015, an Upper Turkey Creek feasibility plan was approved, according to the city’s website.
- Merriam city staff later asked the federal government to renew its commitment to the Upper Turkey Creek Flood Risk Management project in 2018.
- Davids recently helped secure $500,000 to kick start design efforts for the project, that money included in an omnibus spending package approved earlier this year.
What’s next: The Merriam City Council will consider entering a design agreement with the U.S. Army Corps at its meeting Monday night.
- The agreement will allow the design phase for the project to begin, and includes “pre -construction and engineering design,” according to the city website.
- The Army Corps is then expected to take the next three to four years to figure out how to build walls and levees along Turkey Creek from Shawnee Mission Parkway to Merriam Drive, according to the city website.
Key quote: “With this new investment from the bipartisan infrastructure law, we will be able to take action on plans to lift downtown Merriam out of the floodplain and protect hundreds of homes and businesses from flooding,” Davids said in a statement to the Post.