Stranger Creek danger rising near Linwood
Leavenworth Co. creek’s erosion puts property, roadways at risk
A little more than a decade ago, Linwood resident Bill Jones could look out to his back yard and see an 80-foot storage shed just along Stranger Creek.
Now when he gazes to the back of his property, he has to make sure what’s left of the shed hasn’t fallen into the creek and floated on to the nearby Kansas River.
“Every time there is a heavy rain, we get a really high water and the creek floods; it just washes the bank out,” Jones said. “The banks are nothing but sand so when it comes down heavy it just washes it out.”
For more than 20 years, Stranger Creek has been wreaking havoc near the small Leavenworth County town. As water in the creek works its way from the north part of the county to the Kansas River, it has begun carving a new path that has put private and public property at risk.
“We’ve had one street get washed out by the creek and that’s after we lost a bridge,” said Mike Dunivan, Linwood city council member. “Now we have to drive three miles out of our way to get across the creek. If the bank keeps eroding it’s going to put our public works building in danger.”
Shortly after 1999, the creek took out the bridge connecting Sixth Street and Golden Road. By 2006, a bulge in the creek was encroaching on Thompson Street between Third and Sixth streets, completely destroying it by 2009.
That street’s been closed.
Through the years, Dunivan said, the city has tried to get help for the erosion problem.
Northeast of Linwood, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on a project in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Transportation to fix the erosion problem near a bridge over Stranger Creek on Kansas Highway 32.
Maj. Jeff Shultz, with the corps’ Kansas City district, visited Linwood to assess the erosion problem and said similar projects to fix erosion have cost $500,000 to $800,000.
The problem is, the corps can’t do any more work in the area until it has a partner willing to pay 35 percent of the project cost.
Even if the federal government finances 65 percent of the project, Dunivan knows the city couldn’t come up with the $175,000 to $280,000 needed for its share. But Dunivan is hopeful the city can obtain grants.
The city has tried in the past to solve the problems the creek causes for the community.
Corps officials said that in 2003 the city applied for a permit to build a series of erosion control/bank stabilization weirs on the west side of Stranger Creek, but the project failed “due to a lack of funding and cooperation from residents in that area.”
Because it couldn’t find matching funds to help with the bank stabilization, city staff began using construction fill to shore up the bank near the public works building — until the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the fill they were using couldn’t be used because it washed into the Kansas River.