By Kim Mueller
The crumbling Liberty Memorial hillside along Main Street and across from Crown Center will be neatly tucked behind a new wall as workers begin a $2.5 million construction project today to solve the erosion problem.
During construction, which is expected to last six- to eight months, Main Street’s two west lanes will be closed, making room for the heavy equipment and a protected pedestrian pathway.
“This side walk has been a mess as long as I can remember,” said Doug Mounday last week while maneuvering around the dirt and rock littering the walkway and roadside beside the crumbling hill.
Kansas City Parks and Recreation, which owns the land and building, will pay $1 million of the project’s cost while the National World War I Museum and Memorial’s endowment fund will pick up the remaining $1.5 million tab, said Museum Marketing Director Mike Vietti.
Gould Evans will develop initial plans for the slope stabilization project with J.E. Dunn Construction set to execute the project.
The embankment on the east side of the Memorial grounds has gradually degraded over the past 90 years since the city cut into the existing hill to create a traffic way.
The hillside’s geology includes three layers of soil: shale, Argentine limestone and Raymore rock. Construction will remove the 21-ft., soft shale layer currently exposed on the hillside, which is the primary culprit behind the erosion.
A 558-foot long wall will be added to the exposed face of the shale, bridging the two stable limestone layers and protecting the hillside from further decline.
The wall, which will reach from five to 21 feet, will have a natural contoured finish and color to complement the existing stone outcroppings along Main Street, said Chris Wyche, museum facilities and grounds supervisor.
“It will look just like rock,” he said.
The World War I Museum and Memorial will remain open during construction.
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