Little Blue Parkway - Spring Branch Channel Change and Mitigation

Presenters: Kimberly Curry, PE & Gordon W. Shaw, MS

For the City of Independence, Mo., with a population of 117,000, Little Blue Parkway, a new 8.5-mile north-south arterial, had been planned since the late 1960s to improve access to eastern Independence, which includes the largely undeveloped Little Blue River Valley. The new parkway links the four major east-west roadways that traverse the city and it supports economic development and enhances traffic safety in the valley. Completion of the design or this new roadway corridor posed numerous challenges related to environmental impacts to streams and wetland areas for a new corridor through the Little Blue River Floodplain. Design solutions to mitigate environmental impacts included realignment of Spring Branch and enhancement of an existing offsite wetland. The realignment of Spring Branch included developing a natural channel alignment and incorporated features to control erosion and establish wetland areas adjacent to the channel.

Learning Objectives: 
  • By participating in this presentation, the attendee will gain an understanding of the challenges to developing a new roadway through undeveloped land and floodplain areas within a community.
  • By participating in this presentation, the attendee will learn how a channel change was developed to mitigate environmental impacts.
  • As a result of attending the presentation, the attendee will learn how an existing wetland can be enhanced to provide environmental credits.




Presented by Kimberly Curry, PE – Senior Associate Civil Engineer, Burns & McDonnell & Gordon W. Shaw, MS – Senior Wetland Specialist, Burns & McDonnell

Kim has extensive experience in transportation planning and studies, roadway and highway design, and site design for departments of transportation and municipalities. Her notable project experience includes serving as project manager for a number of highway improvement projects for the Kansas Department of Transportation. She also managed the award-winning Little Blue Parkway for the City of Independence, Missouri, and LPA project through the Missouri Department of Transportation. This multi-phased project spanned eight years and entailed conceptual planning, right-of-way plans, alignment, profile and drainage design, traffic studies and construction services.

Gordon Shaw, Professional Wetland Scientist, is a senior wetland specialist and wetland technical lead for Burns & McDonnell. His primary responsibilities include wetland assessments and delineations, biological and botanical surveys, tree surveys, wetland mitigation plans and report writing. This work involves plant identification, plant community determination, technical writing, and mapping using GPS and GIS. He also trains wetland staff and reviews wetland reports. For the Little Blue Parkway Project, Gordon supported mitigation of project impacts by completing wetland delineation surveys and identifying enhancement and creation elements at on- and off-site mitigation areas.