Two Heartland river walls need millions in repairs - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Paducah, KY

Two Heartland river walls need millions in repairs

Two Heartland river walls need millions in repairs
By: Erica Byfield

PADUCAH, Ky. - River walls line the Heartland, protecting us from the very real possibility of flooding. According to the Army Corps of Engineers major work is slated for the wall in Cape Girardeau; a three year project with a ten million dollar bill.

Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton tells us his city is in practically in the same boat.

Paducah's floodwall is more than a tourist attraction; it's the city's lifeline to ensure the great disaster of 1937 never happens again.  But now the cement slabs that line Ohio River are getting local leaders attention because the US Army Corps of Engineers says this structure is at a "minimally acceptable condition."

"They landed boats on the second floor," said historian John Robinson who's researched Paducah's soggy past. 

"The flood wall originally was finished in 1946" he goes on to say. 

Since then nothing structurally has changed.

So, Robinson like the Mayor of Paducah, Bill Paxton, isn't surprised to hear after more than 60 years the flood wall needs a tune up.

"Obviously in 60 years you're going to have some decay of the infrastructure not the concert walls, but the pipes, pumps etc." said the mayor.    

That is the same conclusion the Corps of Engineers came too and that is also why the federal governments agreed to help Paducah foot the bill.

"The federal government is telling us we need to spend $5.2 million in order to repair the wall" said Paxton. 

He goes on to say the city of Paducah needs to pitch in $1.8 million of total cost; but there's the snag.

Mayor Paxton says the city will pay its part after the federal government proves it will hold up its end of the bargain.

"My thought is we will wait until the federal government decides when they will allocate the money" said Paxton. 

John Robinson agrees, at the age of nine he saw just what Mother Nature can do and hopes the rest of us never have to say we lived through a massive flood too.

Mayor Bill Paxton also says he has a meeting set with a few state representatives to nail down when and how much money the federal government is going to pay for the project.

City leaders in Cape Girardeau expect the river wall project to start in late summer or early fall.

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