Officials to design Blue River flood plan

By Corene Brisendine

Another floodplain plan is in the works.

City and county officials have come together to create another floodplain working group, but not for Wildcat Creek. This one is for the Blue River.

Pottawatomie County, Riley County and the city of Manhattan have joined with state and federal agencies to create a floodplain management plan similar to the Wildcat Creek plan.

City commissioners adopted the Wildcat Creek Floodplain Management Plan as part of the Manhattan Area Comprehensive Plan earlier this year.

City planner Chad Bunger said the group should have the Blue River plan together in about 18 months. He said that in addition to governing officials, the working group would include residents living in the Blue River floodplain area.

The plan will have two parts.

The first will be educating residents living in the Blue River floodplain on how they can protect themselves from future floods.

The second will involve setting goals and measurements useful to residents and local governments in reducing flood threats.

Among other things, flood gauges along the Blue River will monitor water levels – similar to the gauges used on Wildcat Creek.

In other business, Pottawatomie County commissioners asked Riley County and city commissioners to join them in supporting a study of a road connecting Marlatt Avenue with Junietta Road — with the idea of creating another major highway into Manhattan from the east.

Stephanie Watts, transportation planner for the Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization, told commissioners that supporting the study did not necessarily mean they supported the project.

But Watts indicated the study would give Kansas Department of Transportation more incentive to buy into the need.

City Commissioner Wynn Butler said the most important part of the study would come from the transportation board’s travel demand model.

That model will indicate if the Marlatt-Junietta extension is actually needed — by projecting future traffic along U.S. Highway 24 east of Manhattan.

Watts said the board would be seeking a letter of support from each of the commissions in the near future.

She said it will take about a year to complete the study and be ready to request state and federal funding for the project.

Watts said once the study is completed, the various commissioners represented on the transportation board would still have to approve the extension.

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