The sandbags that have closed the Green River in Kent since 2009 are finally being removed. The trail should be fully open by the end of September, King County said.
“Removal of the sandbags means life is moving forward in the Valley,” said King County Flood Control District Chair Julia Patterson, who also represents the Green River Valley on the King County Council. “Bicyclists can once again enjoy full access to the trail, people who live here in the Green River Valley can return to their normal lives, and businesses in the Valley can get back to doing what they do best — keeping our regional economy strong.”
The approximately 3-foot high sandbags were installed to provide extra flood protection to the cities of Kent, Auburn, and Tukwila after the 2009 announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that severe flooding was possible due to a damaged Howard Hanson Dam embankment. The Corps announced last fall that they are once again operating the dam at full capacity.
“The sandbags did their job during a time of increased risk of flooding,” said Flood Control District Executive Committee Chair Reagan Dunn. “It’s time, however, for the eyesores to be removed and to restore the Green River environment to its previous state. Removal will allow greater public access to our beloved regional trail, and let King County continue to properly operate and maintain the levees along the river.”
The first bags are being removed between S. 200th and S. 212th Streets and a portion of the Horseshoe Bend Levee in order to make way for other levee improvements currently underway. The contractor will then continue to remove bags in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
The cost for removal of the sandbags is shared between the Flood Control District and the cities, with the District paying approximately $4.4 million and the cities paying approximately $1.4 million collectively. Kent’s portion is nearly $224,000.