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Giant sandbags might remain along Green River in Kent for another winter

Crews place super sacks in October 2009 along the east bank of the Green River near the Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent. The sandbags still remain as city officials wait for repairs to be finished at the Howard Hanson Dam. - CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter
Crews place super sacks in October 2009 along the east bank of the Green River near the Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent. The sandbags still remain as city officials wait for repairs to be finished at the Howard Hanson Dam.
— image credit: CHARLES CORTES, Kent Reporter

The giant sandbags are staying along the Green River Trail in Kent at least through the fall and maybe until next spring.

Kent city officials hired crews to place the sandbags along 12 miles of the river in October 2009 to help protect the city from potential flooding because of damages in January 2009 to an abutment next to the Howard Hanson Dam.

Now city officials are awaiting news from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about whether repairs at the dam this summer will put the dam back at full operating capacity. Corps officials are expected to announce an update in September.

"We are kind of in a waiting pattern until the corps does its analysis of the repair work," said Mike Mactutis, city environmental engineering manager. "The sandbags will stay out at least through the fall until we see what the corps says."

Mactutis said city officials also are working with the King County Flood Control District and the cities of Auburn, Tukwila and Renton to determine when to remove the sandbags.

Kent city crews discovered earlier this summer during repair work at the Horseshoe Bend levee that the giant sandbags are still in good shape.

"We had to move some of the bags at Horseshoe Bend and they are still holding together well," Mactutis said.

The sandbags have straps on them and can be lifted onto trucks to move them.

"That's the expensive part is hauling and disposal," Mactutis said.

City officials are still looking at alternatives for removal and disposal of the sandbags and do not have a cost estimate at this time.

"It is good material," Mactutis said. "It might be worth something to somebody."

Nearly two dozen city public works department employees worked nearly a month straight in 2009 to fill about 17,000 sandbags. Each of the giant sandbags weighs about 3,200 pounds.

Contractors were hired to place the bags along the river. The bags increased the height of the levees by up to 3 feet and enabled the levees to handle river flows as fast as 13,900 cubic feet per second.

The bags also take up much of the space along the Green River Trail, a paved walking and bicycle path.

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