Tonganoxie Creek work to remove tree debris
Work could begin in the next few days on cleanup of Tonganoxie Creek and several of its tributaries.
A May 11 tornado deposited tree limbs and even trees into the creek, causing concerns among city officials and residents about flooding.
The Kansas Division of Natural Resources will foot 75 percent of the cost of the project, while the city will pick up the remaining costs. The city's contribution actually will be in-kind services the use of city trucks and workers to haul debris from the creeks to the county landfill on Kansas Highway 16.
"It allows us to have total control over the waste," said Mayor John Franiuk, "so we know we're not getting an old washing machine or mattress thrown in that pile."
Bids were to be reviewed last Friday, but city officials still are waiting for notification of when work would start.
Last week, city officials met with people who own property along the creek to explain the project and obtain permission to enter their properties, if necessary.
Flooding is just one potential problem that should be alleviated with the cleanup, Franiuk said. Three sewer lines cross the creek, and tree limbs could snap them if creek water started flowing quickly after a rain.
"Before you know it, you've contaminated down to the Kansas River," the mayor said.
Butch Rodgers, the city's public works director, said he's hopeful work can begin next week. But until a contractor is chosen, the city won't know exactly when work will commence.
"The contract states they have 15 calendar days to do it," Rodgers said. "There were a lot of questions on whether that was a long enough time to do the work."
Some residents have requested that the city give them wood pulled from the creek for use as firewood. Rodgers said he's keeping track of those requests.
"As we pull those trees up, we'll give them a timeframe to get those cut up or hauled away," he said. "We're going to be moving along. It's not like they're going to be moving trees around for people."
No decision has been made yet on what to do with the wood that is taken to the quarry. It will be piled in the same area that other wood from trees downed during the tornado was taken last spring. It's possible the wood could be chipped into mulch or burned, city officials have said.
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