Riverfront Authority Looks To Bring Up Metal, Locomotives From KS River

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The first steps in cleaning up the Kansas River through downtown Topeka may focus on what lies unseen beneath the surface.

At its meeting Wednesday, the Topeka and Shawnee County Riverfront Authority heard how the river is filled with angle iron from portions of bridges that collapsed during the 1951 floods. It's also believed locomotives that were on the bridges at the time also remain buried in the silt of the riverbed.

Pat Downes, development director for the Riverfront Authority, said he believes groups are willing to come together to assist efforts to get those items out of the river. He said whether the river remains the drier bed it currently is or is transformed into a larger pool through downtown Topeka, getting the metal out of the river is important in making it safer and more attractive.

Authority members Wednesday also discussed options for improving safety of the current wier at Topeka. Downes says a safer wier will make the area more conducive to recreation and, therefore, tourism. He says he believes a quality riverfront will attract visitors from a 500 to 600 mile radius.

In addition, a group will travel soon to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Kansas Congressional delegation about improvements to the levee system. Downes says the goal of the visit is to stress how vital the flood protection system is for safety and the economy.