KENT, Wash. – A 13-mile eyesore that was meant to protect the Green River Valley from flooding may soon disappear in South King County, but only if the money can be found to make it happen.
Talks have begun to remove the 3-foot high sandbags along the Green River by the fall. They were put in place in the fall of 2009 in response to damage found at the Howard Hanson Dam.
The weakened dam meant a dramatic increase in the risk of major flooding for cities where residency and business has boomed since flooding last plagued the area more than four decades ago.
The Army Corps of Engineers says repairs have returned the dam to full capacity, but the 17,000 large sandbags remain, covered by black tarp. They run along both sides of the Green River, blocking a popular path for walkers, joggers and bicyclists.
The problem is money. The King County Flood Control District is considering a $7.5 million plan to remove the sandbags by this fall. It recommends the district pay for 75 percent of the cost while the cities of Kent, Auburn and Tukwila pay the other 25 percent over a six-year period.
The district could decide this week whether to move forward with the plan, but to pay for it, the district will have to take money from future flood mitigation projects for the next six years.