Army Corps of Engineers pegs costs to restore levee system at $1B+, for now

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By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

The initial levee break which closed U.S. Route 59 in southern Buchanan County the first time./Photo courtesy of the Kansas Highway Patrol

It will cost a lot to replace the levees damaged by this year’s flood.

It will also take a lot of time.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released an estimate of the cost of repairing 100 damaged levees along the Platte River and the Missouri River.

“Right now, we’re estimating at $1.15 billion,” Tom Brady with the Northwest District of the Corps of Engineers tells those on a conference call. “That number will change, because there are many levees we haven’t had access to.”

Brady emphasizes that is only a preliminary estimate.

“A lot of those estimates are based on desktop recon, because we’re not able to get to some of those levees that are under water,” Brady says. “So, we don’t have a full magnitude of the damage. And, so until we get ground truth, we really can’t give you a good targeted amount.”

Brady says that price tag is likely to go higher when floodwaters recede and inspectors can actually view the damage. Also, more requests for repairs are likely to be field by the Corps.

Brady does hold out the possibility that costs could go down.

“Because when we see the damage on the ground, we may find that we are able to cut back on some of our estimates,” Brady says. “We won’t know until we can get engineers out on those 850 miles of levees.”

The Corps also estimates it will take at least a couple of years to fully restore the levees damaged by this year’s flood.