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Officials to close some areas south of dam, increase outflows as waters rise

Officials on Saturday announced the evacuation and closure of the River Pond and Rocky Ford areas at Tuttle Creek State Park as weather forecasts showed the lake likely would reach an elevation of 1,133 by Sunday or Monday.

That’s within about 3 feet of the lake’s record level, and the point at which it’s considered 100 % full.

As of Saturday, the lake stood at 1,130.36, an increase of about 2 feet in 24 hours, with more rain coming.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake, said in a release Saturday that the lake’s flood pool is 88% occupied, leaving minimal space to store flood waters. Because of possible reservoir releases, the River Pond and Rocky Ford Areas of Tuttle Creek State Park is set to close effective at 8 p.m. Sunday.

The Corps said Saturday it plans to increase outflows at the outlet works, also called the tubes, as early as Monday. They said the releases likely will be in the range of 20,000 to 25,000 cubic feet per second. Maximum outflow at the tubes is 48,800 cfs.

If flood storage at Tuttle Creek reservoir reaches 100%, officials will release additional inflows into the reservoir to ensure dam safety and create some flood storage.

Officials said they expect to be able to accomplish the necessary flood releases using only the tubes.

However, in the event that flood storage is fully occupied and inflows exceed the capabilities of the outlet works, the spillway gates will be opened.

They don’t anticipate needing to use them at this time, but if releases are required that could result in out of bank flooding downstream, the Corps will notify local emergency management officials immediately. They said they will do what is necessary for public safety.

Officials ask that the public monitor National Weather Service forecasts and follow the direction of local authorities and emergency managers.

All occupants of the Rocky Ford Campground, as well as all visitors at Tuttle Creek State Park below the dam have been asked to exit the area.

The Rocky Ford Campground is lake campground south of Tuttle Creek State Park below the dam and east of the Big Blue River off Beach Drive.

Residents should expect road closures to the dam in the coming days, according to Manhattan city officials.

They also said traffic on the dam has increased dramatically and vehicles are asked to avoid the east end of the dam and minimize congestion as camping traffic is exiting the area.

No other evacuation advisories have been issued for any other parts of Riley County or Pottawatomie County.

Snyder Highway runners finish race on football field for first time

With the sun rising high above Kansas Highway 177, on a strip otherwise known as Coach Bill Snyder Highway, hundreds of runners lined up along the road and its shoulder facing Manhattan before 7 a.m.

With the blare of an air horn, they were off, running 8 miles down the highway before winding through downtown, K-State’s campus and ending up at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Saturday marked the fifth-annual Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon and 5K. For the first time, nearly 1,900 participants finished the race on the football field, rather than in the parking lot. Race coordinator Ben Sigle said the novelty of being able to end on the field likely helped attract more people this year.

“The last four years K-State’s always had projects they were working on at the stadium,” Sigle said. “There’s just always been a reason why we couldn’t finish on the field so we’re finally able to this year.”

Sigle, co-owner of Manhattan Running Company, said he appreciated the fact they could name the race after Snyder, who retired as head coach of K-State’s football program in December, in the first place.

“He’s done so much for the city of Manhattan,” he said. “I grew up in the area and when you look around, things are completely different than they used to be. A big part of it is what he’s done for the (football) program and what he’s brought to the area.”

Each year race proceeds are donated to charities. This year, Snyder chose four organizations as recipients: K-State’s Johnson Cancer Research Center, Shepherd’s Crossing, Snyder Leadership Fellows and the Matt Snyder Foundation for Troubled Youth. Sigle said over the past four years, Manhattan Running Company has been able to donate about $100,000 to local charities from the Bill Snyder Highway Half and 5K alone.

“I think that’s why so many people get excited about (the event) is because it’s Bill Snyder and because philanthropy is something that’s so important to him,” 5K participant Lexie Hayes, 34, Manhattan, said.

“A lot of the proceeds are going to kind of honor him and what he’s done here in the Manhattan community. They’re going to a good cause.”

Sarah Ibbetson, 38, Ozark, Missouri, was the first woman and eighth overall runner to cross the finish line for the half marathon with a time of 1:23:32.

Ibbetson, who has been running since she was 11 years old, said the time was longer than her personal goal, but she still finished strong despite recovering from bronchitis.

“I’m certainly happy to get the win and always thankful to be out there,” she said.

“My time wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I’m actually on antibiotics because I’ve had bronchitis this past week. I’m not wonderful, but I’m feeling better than I was. I’m just happy to be able to run today.”

Ibbetson said she suffered an injury in the fall but has been building up her training regime for the race since January, running about 70 to 90 miles per week.

“I loved being able to finish in the stadium, it was great (organizers) were able to do that,” Ibbetson said. “The race organizers do a fantastic job. It’s a very well put-on event.”

City to vote on funds for Aggieville Parking Garage design, begin 2020 budget process

The Manhattan City Commission will consider approving design agreements for several Aggieville projects, including a proposed Aggieville parking garage, at its meeting Tuesday. The commission also will begin the summer budget process at a work session before the legislative meeting.

The work session is at 5 p.m. at City Hall, with a special legislative session following at 7 p.m.

As part of the Aggieville Community Vision Plan, city staff members will present the commission with two Aggieville improvement projects to consider at the legislative session.

One of the resolutions is approval of design services for the parking garage. The garage would be at the intersection of Laramie and North Manhattan, just south of Rally House.

The total cost of the design contract is $1.2 million. That figure includes design costs for the garage, a complete reconstruction of that section of Laramie Street, a traffic signal for 14th Street and Laramie Street and a parking management plan for both the garage and the Aggieville District.

City officials estimate the eventual construction of the garage will cost $15.5 million, but Tuesday’s resolution only approves funding for the project design. Commissioners would need to vote to fund the actual garage once the design is complete.

The other resolution deals with street improvements in Aggieville. The city will ask the commission to approve design and construction contracts for replacement of North 12th Street from Bluemont Avenue to Moro Street, and Laramie Street from North 14th Street to North Manhattan Avenue, adjacent to the site of the proposed garage.

The estimated cost of the 12th Street project is $2.4 million, while the estimated cost of the Laramie Street project $1.6 million. Both projects include costs for the complete removal and replacement of the street, sidewalk, lighting and streetscape, as well as a traffic signal at the 14th Street and Laramie Street intersection.

Following that meeting, commissioners will hold the first work session for the 2020 city budget. The session will focus on the general fund, which supports most city operations.

The city estimates general fund revenue will increase 3.6% to $33.1 million, and the city ended the 2018 fiscal year with a cash balance of $3.1 million.

But city officials are cautioning the commissioners that they likely will need to use that extra cash balance and increase property tax revenues by 37.8 percent to $5.2 million in 2020 due to a “leveling-off” of most other revenues.

The commission will hold three additional budget work sessions through the summer, with the option to hold a fifth in late July. Under the budget timeline, the commission will hold a first reading of the budget timeline on Aug. 6.

The commission also will discuss adding an ordinance to better help the city regulate construction work, especially underground work, in the public right-of-way. City officials point to increases in damage to public and private utilities and changes in state law over how cities can regulate that work as a driving factor for the discussion.

I WONDER | Will dam projects affect Tuttle Creek water-release functions?

Q: Has the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished work on the emergency spillway gate operating system and outlet “tubes,” both of which had been going on during the past year? Have they been tested recently, given the situation with rising water at Tuttle Creek Lake?

A: While not completely finished, a good portion of the construction projects near Tuttle Creek Dam has done.

Since February 2018, contractors hired by the Corps of Engineers have been working on two major projects: rehabilitating the stilling basin (below the dam in Riley County) and replacing the bridge deck above the spillway structure (southeast of the dam in Pottawatomie County).

The stilling basin project, commonly known as the “tubes,” is at least half done. Brian McNulty, operations project manager for the Corps at Tuttle Creek Lake, said workers were nearly finished replacing the 8 feet of the side walls of the stilling basin in a public meeting Wednesday with other Corps officials.

“The more difficult part of that project is we’re actually drilling down holes vertically (on either side of the basin) and putting anchors in,” he said.

McNulty said implementation of the anchors has stopped for now as the contractor would be unable to work on the project when releases from the basin, or “tubes,” is more than 20,000 cubic feet per second. This is the routine way of releasing water from the reservoir.

When conditions eventually allow Corp officials to release water and begin emptying the lake, which recently reached its second-highest elevation at 1,130.35 feet, McNulty said releases will probably be between 20,000-25,000 cfs over the course of several weeks. McNulty said this would probably begin some time in the next few months.

The maximum releases that can be made from the tubes would be 48,800 cfs.

For now, workers are refilling sides of the stilling basin with dirt to improve its safety for when those elevated releases do occur.

As far as the other project, the bridge (Kansas Highway 13) itself already has been replaced and checked by the Kansas Department of Transportation. However, restoration of the site surrounding the bridge still needs to be finished, which requires dry weather conditions.

Lake officials originally had planned to reopen in early May, but constant bouts of rain in the area have made further work difficult.

They said the high water in the lake is not affecting the project.

Neither of the projects affect the normal operation of the dam or its integrity, but Corps staff have regularly been collecting and verifying data about the lake and dam as the water level rises.

“We have instruments measuring flow that’s going underneath or through the dam,” McNulty said. “Tuttle Creek is designed to leak, believe it not, and we have water that moves its way through the embankment. As the lake rises, those pressures increase so the probability for problems increase with that.

It’s a very safe dam, but our inspection and monitoring of those features of the dam increases as the lake goes higher.

“Right now we’re reading every instrument of the dam with each 5-foot rise of the lake,” he said. “And we’ll read those instruments as the lake comes back down as well. The analysis of info goes through the district office and people verifying that internal pressures of the dam are within safe limits, et cetera.”