Kent awards $6.7 million bid to repair Green River levee

This rendering shows how deep a flood wall will go into the ground along a Green River levee near South 200th Street and what the trail will look like atop the levee. - COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent
This rendering shows how deep a flood wall will go into the ground along a Green River levee near South 200th Street and what the trail will look like atop the levee.
— image credit: COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

Crews are expected to start work this spring to repair the Briscoe-Desimone levee along the Green River that protects portions of Kent, Tukwila and Renton from flooding.

The Kent City Council awarded a bid of $6.7 million on Jan. 21 to Tapani, Inc., to make the improvements along the levee that stretches from South 180th Street to South 200th Street. Tapani had the lowest of 10 bids that were as high as $9.2 million. City engineers estimated the cost at $8.4 million.

"We're very, very pleased with the bids," Public Works Director Tim LaPorte said to the council. "We received excellent bids from 10 bidders, which really surprised me. I was expecting about four. They were very competitive and we have checked out the qualifications of the low bidder. They've done their most recent work with Klickitat County and received a thumbs up rating."

Tapani is based in Battle Ground in Southwest Washington. Ironically, how to repair the levee became a battle ground between the city of Kent and King County officials.

The King County Flood Control District board hired an outside consultant and eventually agreed to go with the city's plan to repair the 2.5-mile levee rather than a much-more expensive county plan that included purchasing large amounts of property around the river.

A state grant of $7 million and King County Flood Control District funds will pay for this project and a second project next year along the levee. Engineers estimate the total repair cost at about $18 million.

"The consultant that will certify this levee required this work to be done to ensure that the levee would be strengthened during a major flood event to make sure that the river stays within its bounds," LaPorte said.

Crews will install flood walls an estimated 30 to 40 feet into the ground, LaPorte said. About six feet of the wall will be above ground, similar to work done on the Boeing levee next to the Three Friends Fishing Hole just south of South 200th Street.

The project includes constructing setback flood walls along two sections, or reaches, of the levee between South 189th Street and South 194th Street that do not meet stability criteria; removing large trees and roots that could cause damage to the levees; and removing ivy and other ground cover that can prevent routine inspections.

The levee project consists of four segments on the east bank of the Green River that are considered most at risk of failure.

Crews are expected to finish the work by fall, LaPorte said. Trees and plants will go in once the walls are installed. A second project on two more sections of the levee is expected to be done in 2015.

Most importantly to property owners, the projects also include submitting applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to certify the levee so properties are removed from the Kent Valley floodplains and property owners are no longer required to buy flood insurance.

Reagan Dunn, a King County councilman and chair of the flood district board, asked the city to join the flood district to host a groundbreaking ceremony this spring for the project because of all of the work that went into it, LaPorte said. The date of the ceremony has yet to be determined.

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