Self Guided Tour

Send this tour to your printer and take a sightseeing drive.

1. 110-year old stone channel: Watson Park

Park on 7th between Kentucky and Tennessee. Walk north into the open grass area and find the storm drain manhole with a steel grate on top. This inlet collects stormwater and provides access for maintenance. At the bottom of the manhole, the floor of the tunnel is visible, and there is usually running water. Do not attempt to go into this system.

The tunnel was originally constructed in the 1880’s as an open channel lined with stone. It allowed residential development in the areas to the west. In the 1950’s, the channel was closed in with steel pipe so that the park could be filled. The fill material came from the construction of 6th Street through the hill one mile west of here.

The neighborhoods to the southwest and much of the KU campus drain to this point. This system is overloaded frequently, flooding the park between Tennessee and Kentucky Streets.

2. Completed capital improvement: 3rd Street and Michigan Street

Take Michigan north to 3rd Street and turn east. The large open channel flowing north was completed in late 1998 as part of the top priority Capital Improvement Project. A large concrete pipe parallels the channel under the east shoulder.

Turn north on Arkansas, then west on 2nd Street. From this location, the channel and large pipe enter from the south, another large pipe enters from the west and the combined flows discharge through the new box culvert under Arkansas Street.

Prior to these improvements, these backyards were flat. In 1951, the natural creek was filled-in to create these residential lots. By 1990, fences, trees and sheds blocked the drainage.

Turn south on Michigan Street and west on 3rd Street. Notice the large dip in the roadway on Michigan Street. This intersection was rebuilt to allow stormwater to overflow from the west. Continue on 3rd to Wisconsin. The natural creek west of this intersection probably looks similar to the original drainage path prior to the residential subdivision in 1951. Turn north on Wisconsin, then west on 2nd Street to get to the next site.

3. Private on-site stormwater detention: Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Go west on 2nd Street, through the intersection with the turnpike access. Turn north on North Iowa Street, and briefly pull over near the first entrance to the large parking lot. The parking lot was reconstructed in 1998, after hundreds of cars were flooded in a heavy storm in 1996. The large excavated area south of the parking lot is a detention basin that was provided to offset the elevated parking lot. This basin qualifies as a regional detention basin, in that it controls a large part of the upstream watershed.

4. Residential channel reconstruction: Yorkshire Drive

Turn west on Peterson Road. Slow to a stop in the center turn lane of Peterson Road just west of Yorkshire Drive. The City stormwater crew constructed the grass-lined channel to the south in 2000. Before reconstruction, this channel was not large enough and had become blocked by fences and trees. The grass channel provides a stable, pervious surface for flood conveyance.

5. Residential channel reconstruction: Deerfield Park / Creekwood Drive

Turn south on Crestline Drive. Turn west on Princeton Drive, then south into Deerfield Park. Walk to the west side of the tennis courts. The open drainage to the west was reconstructed in 1998 to correct severe erosion problems adjacent to residential properties. This project was completed with benefit district financing, at the request of the homeowners. The natural channel eroded over a twenty-year period to the point that the adjacent ground dropped 15 feet to the channel bottom. The current project placed a large pipe along the natural channel and a wide overflow channel within the limits of the platted drainage easement. The outlet has been lined with gabion baskets and a rip-rap floor.

Drive west on Princeton Blvd., and then turn left on Creekwood Drive. The homes along Creekwood Drive were most severely threatened by the erosion. The effects of the project can be seen through several side yards. Turn south on Kasold Drive to continue to the next site.

6. Stormwater detention: West 6th Street development

Go west on 6th street, and then turn north on Folks Road. Turn west on Overland Drive, then north at the first High School entrance. Follow this entrance north and stop before the curve to the west. The area to the east has been developed for single-family residences and apartments. A large detention basin has been constructed just east of the High School parking lot. The placement of the basin will protect the residential properties from stormwater runoff from heavily paved areas to the south. The detention basin has been sized to match undeveloped peak flows to the natural wooded areas in the downstream watershed to the north.

7. Floodproofing: West 8th street

Return east on 6th Street, turn south on Kasold Drive, then east on 8th Street. Go past Arizona Street and the first two residences on the left. Pull over near the single story apartments on the left. Commercial and residential areas drain from 6th Street to the north edge of this property. This site was not planned for stormwater management, and as a result the building owners have had to construct concrete walls to deflect heavy flow away from the front doors. Stormwater travels across the entire paved parking area several inches deep on a regular basis.

8. Apartment site over a natural creek

Continue east on 8th Street (which becomes 9th Street.) Continue east on 9th Street one mile, turn north on Avalon Road, turn east on 8th Street Terrace and stop at the bottom of the hill. This apartment complex was built over an existing creek. The depth of the remaining creek to the northeast is a good indication of the magnitude of runoff to this point. The steel pipe at the bottom of the ditch was used to enclose the natural drainage path. This property floods on a regular basis. The curb and concrete flumes were constructed in 1997 in an attempt to prevent the parking lot from collapsing into the creek.

9. Burroughs Creek: 13th & Oregon

Return to 9th Street and head east approximately 1.2 miles to Connecticut Street. Turn south onto Connecticut Street and drive approximately ¾ mile to 15th Street. Turn east onto 15th Street and drive approximately 3/10 of mile until reaching Parnell Park and pull over. The new channel north of the bridge on 15th Street originally was a single cell reinforced concrete box that started and 15th street and ran underground all the way to just north of the intersection of 12th and Haskell. This new channel provides considerably more flood conveyance for flood water than the original box culvert.