By Kevin Collison
One of greater downtown’s newer “parks” recently celebrated a quiet first anniversary, except for the rumbling trucks overhead.
It’s called the Liberty Street Green Space and it replaces a grubby, former no-man’s land beneath the I-670 overpass in the West Bottoms with decorative pavers, walking trails and landscaping.
The project was part of an $8.6 million green infrastructure project in the West Bottoms that was built as part of the city’s consent degree with the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Storm water runoff from the soaring interstate overpasses, buildings and other impervious surfaces is collected and channeled into bioswales and other natural drainage areas.
“The bio-retention cell is a multi-use stormwater feature that will not only detain and infiltrate the collected runoff, but also creates an inviting green space,” according to a city description of the project.
On the north side of the West Bottoms, the project added bioswales and gravel drainage areas along part of the Riverfront Heritage Trail. That system catches runoff from the I-70 Lewis & Clark viaduct.
In all, about eight acres of new green space has been created in the West Bottoms as part of the project.
“The project brought opportunities for social, economic and environmental sustainability to the project area,” Srini Vallabhaneni, KC Water Smart Sewer officer, said in a statement.
“At the I-670 plaza, the underpass area that was formerly gravel and muddy puddles has been transformed to include generous pedestrian areas and a flexible, multi-use, covered outdoor space that can be used for festivals and events.”
Work on the project began in late 2019 and was completed about a year ago.
The Liberty Street Green Space and adjoining bio-infiltration area is directly south of several warehouses that are part of the West Bottoms antique district. Murals decorate the east wall of the plaza and elevated walkways wind through the bioswale.
“The site contains an interactive boardwalk system that invites the public to observe the native plants and the nature-based stormwater system,” according to a city description.
Burns & McDonnell was the program manager for the KC Water project. Its design professional was HNTB and its construction contractor was Kissick Construction.
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