The city of Kent land use hearing examiner approved two Green River levee projects proposed by the city Public Works Department.
The projects include the State Route 516 to South 231st Way Levee and the Boeing Levee that stretches from South 200th Street to South 212th Street.
Hearing Examiner Kimberly Allen approved both projects in reports released April 23. City staff was required to go through the hearing examiner for a Shoreline Conditional Use Permit to construct the earthen berm levees.
The projects are part of a larger effort by the city to have the entire levee system within city limits accredited by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to remove properties behind the levee from FEMA flood maps to reduce development restrictions and flood insurance requirements in the Kent Valley.
"The proposed project would protect existing residences and businesses from 100-year flood events," Allen wrote in the report.
Crews will construct a new secondary levee along State Route 516. The secondary levee will be about 20 feet wide and between 1.5 feet to 3.5 feet higher than the existing levee, according to city documents.
The intersection of James Street and Russell Road will be shifted approximately 18 feet to the east to accommodate the new levee berm. Near State Route 516, the existing roadway of 62nd Avenue South will be raised to act as the new levee berm.
The SR 516 to S. 231st Levee stretches about 2.75 miles. Crews will do the work in phases over the next few years. The construction work planned this year is estimated to cost $800,000 and includes rebuilding the intersection of James Street and Russell Road further from the river, according to Mike Mactutis, city environmental engineering manager.
Construction of the first phase, relocation of the Russell Road/James Street intersection is expected to start this summer. Subsequent phases are scheduled to be completed by December 2015 with a total estimated cost of about $20 million.
The intersection work is funded by the city’s stormwater utility fund and is scheduled to be completed this year.
"We are working on acquiring funding for the additional levee construction pieces through the state as well as the King County Flood Control District," Mactutis said. "Those additional phases can be completed as soon as they are funded."
On the Boeing Levee, crews will construct an earthen berm and flood-wall levee for flood protection at the city's Three Friends Fishing Hole Park, adjacent to the river. The berm and flood wall will act as a secondary levee for the existing levee.
That $2 million project is funded through a grant from the state to the King County Flood Control District, and should cover the work needed to bring the levee up to FEMA standards, Mactutis said.
Mactutis added that the levees are not at risk of failure, but need improvements before they become a problem.
Crews also will take steps as required by the hearing examiner's ruling to limit any visual impact of the new levees on existing homes.
"The new levee berm shall be screened rom the existing homes with native vegetation as densely as possible, within the constraints of the Corps of Engineers levee vegetation standards," Allen wrote. "The applicant (city) shall work with any affected property owners throughout the acquisition process to minimize impacts."