KC Levees Timelapse: Rail Stoplog Installation
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District
Video by Andres Guzman
Jan. 27, 2024 | 3:05
The success of the Kansas Citys Levees Project is dependent on close coordination and collaboration with multiple railroads, including the Kansas City Terminal Railway (KCT), BNSF, Union Pacific Rail, and Kansas City Southern – all of which own and operate major facilities within the overall project footprint – including the high traffic KCT Highline Bridge, BNSF’s Argentine Yard and Union Pacific’s Armourdale Yard. The project scope includes the construction of 12 closure structures at major railroad control points. As railroad representatives have noted, the KC Levees project “is performing heart surgery on the aorta of the lifeline for the railroad.” This effort is part of the $529M Kansas Citys Levees flood risk management project to improve the reliability and resiliency of 17 miles of levees and floodwalls located along the Kansas River in the Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri and reduce the likelihood of flooding by 200% for 30,000 people, $10B of infrastructure, and a nationally critical rail hub.

The effort shown in the timelapse video is for 2 of the 12 closure structures on the project. The KC Levees team, including Lane Construction (contractor), successfully installed 2 precast concrete sills across a pair of high-traffic Kansas City Terminal (KCT) tracks at each end of the double-decked KCT Highline Bridge. The concrete sills will serve as the foundation for 2 stoplog closure structures. Work included a full track outage under an active upper bridge deck (trains passing over the construction site) and simultaneous excavation, installation, and concrete backfill of two separate sites. The USACE team provided QA oversight, coordinated and communicated with KCT and BNSF, addressed differing site conditions, management and administrative support, and ensured the work was completed safely. Both structures were scheduled to be completed in 15 hours, but work was done in only 12 hours. Completing this work ahead of schedule and without any significant issues has further supported our great partnerships with the KCT and BNSF railroads. KCT and BNSF expressed their appreciation of USACE and Lane’s commitment and support to complete this work as quickly as possible to reduce train delays across their networks. Lane successfully performed the work while overcoming several site constraints, including low overhead clearance from the upper bridge deck, limited horizontal clearance, limited track closure time allowed by the railroad, and full operation of the overhead bridge during the lower-level track closure.

Using a precast concrete sill reduced construction duration, excavation depth, foundation footprint, and railroad outage duration. During flood emergency management, these closure structures utilize at-grade sills to maximize the time railroad tracks are in service and do not require rail cutting when deploying stoplogs.

Many years of coordination and collaborative effort have led to the successful completion of this phase of the project. The success can be attributed to the team following these key points: (1) maintaining close and constant contact with railroad representatives to understand current and future operations, existing utilities and signals, and customer needs; (2) developing multiple design iterations that balance the needs of stakeholders with differing priorities, but ultimately greatly reduce the risk of flooding; and (3) establishing collaborative partnerships with multiple railroads to develop solutions that minimize the project’s impacts on their operations.