The Blue River Valley Industrial Corridor (BRVIC) on Kansas City’s east side has been an industrial workhorse dating back to the late 1800s. Generations of Kansas Citians labored to shape steel, machinery, and related products through the 20th century, leaving behind layers of buried remnants. Partnering with geotechnical engineers who have first-hand experience digging through those layers gives builders key advantages.

A Bold Brownfield Effort

Experience matters in the BRVIC. Commercial builders will want to partner with engineers who are familiar with the general history and character of brownfield land up and down the river. “Brownfield” land, or land that’s been through repeated industrial development, can be complex and full of surprises in the Corridor. We’ve found miscellaneous metal junk, iron scraps and other industrial debris as deep as 30 feet.

Not every engineer will jump at the chance to work in brownfield conditions like these. It takes a certain passion for the challenge to see possibilities in the soil despite the obstacles. Builders will want the help of Alpha-Omega Geotech engineers or others who know how to balance the condition of the land with project goals to keep construction progressing with confidence.

Geotechnical firms looking for predictable, cookie-cutter opportunities may not have much interest in fielding the complexities of brownfield conditions. Builders should give priority consideration to nimble, local firms with brownfield experience that informs their ability to tailor strategies for the needs of specific properties in the Corridor.

Enormous industrial relics, chunky debris and chemicals are not uncommon beneath the surface of a brownfield.

Enormous industrial relics, chunky debris, and chemicals are not uncommon beneath the surface of a brownfield.

Skilled Navigators of the Unknown

Much of what’s buried in the Corridor’s brownfield layers is unknown. The area’s underground history stretches back further than detailed records in some cases. Assessing a specific property requires a thorough hands-on investigation and an expert interpretation of findings that can be translated into feasible solutions. Getting a grip on brownfield conditions can take some work, but barring extreme circumstances, the process doesn’t have to derail construction timelines or dramatically increase costs.

Geotechnical engineers will focus on searching the depths of a property for large rocks and debris, mechanical pieces, vehicles and trees. Our crews have turned up entire rooms and even signs of old tunnels that once linked structures underground. Each one of these discoveries has the potential to shift or collapse, and factors into a comprehensive evaluation of the overall stability of the ground at a build site.

Sampling, drilling, and testing give crews an initial feel for the soil’s profile and any buried secrets. Larger excavation will then confirm working theories or shed new light that informs adjustments. The goal is to assure structural stability and give construction project designers the confidence they need to move forward with their plans knowing exactly what they’re dealing with on the surface and in the subgrade.

Sampling, drilling and testing help AOG crews investigate the specifics of a brownfield.

Sampling, drilling and testing help AOG crews investigate the specifics of a brownfield.

Creative Problem Solvers

Digging out an entire brownfield site and importing more ideal fill soil may seem easier and could be an option in some cases. In others, however, the expense could overwhelm construction budgets and extensive excavation near the Blue River could threaten its slope. A structure built mainly on existing ground with a customized foundation platform is often a more viable option that keeps costs under control. Veteran engineers with the right experience won’t balk at the prospect of exploring platform alternatives and other creative solutions.

Geotechnical firms working in the BVIC will likely need to do more than deliver services, reports and recommendations upfront. Builders will benefit from partnering with geotech engineers who are willing to stick around and keep working with the build team at least until construction begins to rise above the ground. Site excavation in a brownfield can reveal game-changing conditions that require creativity and planning modifications. The ongoing input and perspective of geotech partners will ensure smart adjustments customized to fit the needs and boundaries of the project.

Creative solutions are not to be confused with experimental. As AOG’s Garic Abendroth points out, engineers back their work with their license and seal as well as their reputation.

Creative solutions are not to be confused with experimental. As AOG’s Garic Abendroth points out, engineers back their work with their license and seal as well as their reputation.

Specialized Effort Builds Opportunity

Don’t let brownfield development discourage your vision for a successful commercial operation in the BRVIC. The rewards of doing business in the area are well worth navigating the unique and complex geotechnical challenges builders face. The BRVIC offers road, river and rail access, high-capacity utility service, a long-standing industrial focus and a constant flow of renewed public and private investment. Partnering with the right geotechnical firm will unlock all of it with peace of mind right from the start.

Read about a project in our ongoing work with Custom Truck One Source in the Blue River Valley Industrial Corridor. >>

See how we helped KCP&L counter river forces in the upgrade of its Hawthorne Generation Station. >>