Repairs completed on three Green River levees in Kent

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Bill Graney

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Bill Graney

Repairs ended last month on three Green River levees along the Riverbend Golf Course in Kent.

Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, King County and the city of Kent performed final walk-through inspections in late October on the $8.7 million project. The program encompassed repairs to the following levees: Kent Shops, Narita and Myer’s Golf. The levees, part of the region’s front line of defense in times of flooding, sustained damage during the November 2006 flood.

“This was a big step for the Corps, county and city,” said Mike Mactutis, city environmental engineering manager, in a phone interview Oct. 30. “But there’s quite a few more steps to get (all of) the levees completely fixed. There’s quite a few more projects we’re working on getting funding for.”

The just-completed project received 80 percent funding from the federal government and 20 percent from King County. Army Corps officials expect to begin work next year to repair the Horseshoe levee in Kent. It’s located where Central Avenue crosses the Green River south of the city’s downtown.

“The levee is much more stable and it was set back about 20 or 30 feet depending on the location,” said Mactutis, who viewed the levees last week. “The old levee was slowly fading, cracking and slumping into the river.”

City officials reopened the popular Green River Trail this month now that the repairs are complete. The trail had been closed north and south of the Meeker Street Bridge since work started on the levees in July. The Corps repaved the trail, after part of it was removed because of the expanded levees. The old trail had started to crack because of the slumping levees.

The repair work also caused the city to close a nine-hole section of the Riverbend course in September. The course will be back to an 18-hole expanse by March. Several of the course’s holes had to be moved because the Corps expanded the levee into the golf course.

More than 10,000 dump trucks entered the work site during the repairs to either bring in rock or haul away dirt. Workers replaced dirt with rocks along the river banks to strengthen the levee.

“It was a lot of hauling,” said Bill Graney, project engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The levees were fixed to meet federal standards for 100-year flood protection, Graney said.

The Corps also placed 129 tree logs in the river anchored with stream-bed boulders the size of a small Volkswagen, Graney said. The logs provide fish habitat, and the boulders help stabilize the river bank.

The repaired banks include layers of rocks, dirt and grass. The corps hydro-seeded grass along the bank and planted approximately 14,800 willow and dogwood tree saplings.

“It was very well done,” Mactutis said of the project. “The corps did an incredible amount of work in a short time. The trucks were running 16 hours a day and six days a week.”

The corps also recently finished two Green River levee repairs in Auburn and one in Tukwila.

The corps built Howard Hanson Dam along the Green River, northeast of Enumclaw, in the early 1960s to help prevent flooding in the Green River Valley. Most of the levees along the river were built with dirt in the 1950s or 1960s by farmers to protect their crops.

Mactutis expects the repaired levees in Kent to provide more protection.

“It should be better able to handle high-storm flows,” Mactutis said.

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