Influx of federal funds speeds construction of flood control in Cedar Rapids


Construction crews work Tuesday to build a flood wall on Cold Creek near Shaver Road NE, north of Cedar Lake in Cedar Rapids. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Construction crews are working Tuesday on an elevated replacement bridge for Shaver Road NE at Cold Creek north of Cedar Lake in Cedar Rapids. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Construction crews work Tuesday to build a flood wall on Cold Creek near Shaver Road NE, north of Cedar Lake in Cedar Rapids. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Construction crews work Tuesday to build a flood wall on Cold Creek near Shaver Road NE, north of Cedar Lake in Cedar Rapids. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Construction crews are working Tuesday on an elevated replacement bridge for Shaver Road NE at Cold Creek, north of Cedar Lake in Cedar Rapids. The teams raise the road several meters. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

A rendering shows a flood control project that will raise First Street between E Avenue NW and Second Avenue SW, near the $81.5 million First and First West mixed-use development. (Courtesy of the City of Cedar Rapids)

A rendering shows a flood control project that will raise O Avenue NW above a levee near the Cedar River. (Courtesy of the City of Cedar Rapids)

CEDAR RAPIDS — With an influx of federal funds as well as state and local funding, Cedar Rapids is accelerating construction of its $750 million permanent flood control system with projects this year on both sides of the Cedar River.

Rob Davis, manager of the city’s flood control program, said the city will have spent more than $45 million in fiscal year 2022, the fiscal year that ended June 30, to flood control works and likely an additional $10 million in the 2023 budget year which started in July. 1.

City officials are celebrating the resumption of flood control work, particularly on the west side of the river, but are also grappling with supply chain issues and inflation.

Public Works Director Bob Hammond said Davis was working with the Army Corps of Engineers to try to anticipate supply chain issues.

“That mitigation that we’ve been doing — trying to stockpile, buying early, anticipating inflation rates on certain materials — is something that’s probably holding us up better than maybe others,” Hammond said.

Additionally, Davis said working with the same contractors on much of the flood control system has helped crews work efficiently.

Here’s where flood control work is taking place this season:

North section

North-West district

Crews are turning dirt and demolishing the old Hubbard Ice building to make way for long-awaited flood protection in the northwest neighborhood.

Council will receive a report this Tuesday on bids for a $3 million upper levee at O ​​Avenue NW, a project funded by the $28 million federal bailout law allocation. .

Federal funding through the Army Corps covers permanent flood protection only on the east side of the river due to its cost-benefit formula – on the west side, the cost of adding flood control flooding was greater than the value of the buildings it would protect, according to the Corps formula.

But city officials chose to accelerate flood protection around the northwest neighborhood and Time Check with the availability of new federal funds.

O Avenue NW will be elevated from Ellis Boulevard NW and under the Northwest Memorial Arch to First Street NW above a seawall. An on-road bike path and a separate multi-use path will lead to the top of the dike, which will be bordered by a trail.

“This is a big step for the Northwest neighborhood to start this area,” Davis said.

This work is expected to begin in August and be completed in September 2023, so O Avenue NW in the area will remain closed for the winter.

Work on O Avenue NW is underway due to a planned extension from Ellis Boulevard NW to First Avenue, which will open next year. The city will close the I Avenue NW crossing, so Davis said the city wants to reopen O Avenue as soon as possible before closing that crossing and adding a new one.

Additionally, there will be additional infrastructure removals – roadways, sidewalks, watermains, sanitary sewers, and storm sewers – for future flood control between Penn Avenue and B Avenue NW.

Premier and Premier West

While construction is underway on the $81.5 million mixed-use First and First West site, Davis said crews will begin work around Labor Day on an estimated 9-day flood control project. .9 million on First Street between E Avenue NW and Second Avenue SW.

There will be closures on First Street NW between First Avenue and Interstate 380 while a flood wall is being constructed between First Avenue W and E Avenue NW.

First Street NW will be rebuilt and raised above this flood wall, and moved closer to the development, near the area that will host the Pickle Palace Bar and Grill.

First Street SW south of First Avenue is scheduled to reopen next summer, before First and First West opens its first building on the block in fall 2023.

“We really try to be aware of everything that’s going on so that we don’t have open development and then close the road right after,” Davis said.

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The Corps intends to issue a tender this fall or late summer for a project that will add removable gates on Second Avenue, such as the Gate on Third Avenue, a wall -flooding at the five-season tree and rolling doors under I-380 on the east side, Davis said. Second Avenue will not close until First Avenue reopens, likely starting in the fall.

Crews likely won’t start the valve below E and F Avenues on the east side until next spring, in coordination with a project starting next year on F Avenue NW. The work there will close off the area under the westbound highway.

Eighth Avenue

The city is moving toward replacing the Eighth Avenue Bridge with additional storm sewer work. Scheduled for 2024 or 2025, the bridge replacement will be an elevated, cable-stayed structure to keep a downtown connection open during a flood of the magnitude of 2008.

On First Street SW in front of Ingredion, Davis said crews are piping storm sewer into an outfall of the Cedar River, which will be a future mixed-use pumphouse next to the bridge.

Cedar Lake area

Crews are working to raise the Shaver Road NE bridge approximately 7 or 8 feet to pass over the flood control system and add an underpass for the trail.

“It’s a truck route – naturally important to keeping Shaver Road open during a flood of the magnitude of 2008,” Davis said.

In the vicinity, Davis said the Army Corps had awarded a construction contract to redo the McLoud Run Canal. It currently has a concrete channel and will be converted to a natural stream bed to support the additional trout the rest of the stream already has. This will also include a seawall in future years extending from Shaver Road along McLoud Run and then turning a corner to Cedar Lake.

“This area will be totally different,” Davis said.

Quaker oats

After five seasons of construction, Davis said, work will be complete to protect Quaker Oats north of downtown. The final project was to install a railroad gate on the Union Pacific tracks.

“This is their largest plant in the country and we were able to keep it fully operational at all times,” Davis said.

South section

16th Avenue Locks

As flood control works stretch along the west side of the Cedar River, Davis said the 16th Avenue floodgate and flood wall for the Czech and Slovak National Museum and Library was “ probably the smoothest project we’ve had to date for flood control. system since we started.

The project is ahead of schedule. The road reopened around Memorial Day, with tracks on the road for gates to slide through and prevent rising waters from seeping into surrounding neighborhoods. The east and west sides of the bridge have walkway arches identifying the bridge as a gateway to the Czech village and New Bohemia.

Czech museum area

Soon, the city will relocate Riverside Park – closing the playground and skatepark to make way for a retention pond that will help measure stormwater at a future 12th Avenue pump station.

The city is working with the local skateboarding community and other neighbors to get feedback on the replacement skatepark, which will be relocated closer to C Street SW. The skatepark will close after Labor Day and reopen around Memorial Day 2023.

This project, funded with money from the Iowa Flood Mitigation, is part of the first phase of a $20 million retention basin, pumping station and flood wall project adjacent to the Czech Museum. Davis said the museum’s courtyard would be terraced up to the flood wall, designed to hold wedding receptions.

“These are the things that I think we all hope will become the norm on how to control flows,” Davis said. “It’s not just about flood control. You weave it into the fabric of the community.

12th Avenue Locks

With the reopening of 16th Avenue, the city is preparing to close 12th Avenue for about eight to nine months to install valves.

While that street is closed, the city will add mini-roundabouts at 12th Avenue SE and 2nd Street SE, Davis said, similar to those at Johnson Avenue and Wiley Boulevard NW and Johnson Avenue and Jacolyn Drive NW.

“It’s not the ones with the grass in the middle, it’s just paved because it’s a small place,” Davis said.

The Afro-American Museum of Iowa will take advantage of the street closure to redevelop its building.

The main entrance to the museum will be blocked by the gate, so it will be moved to the east side of the building. A $1.07 million contribution from the city will help cover the relocation of the entrance, impacted exterior landscaping, an improved lobby and updated parking lot at 55 12th Ave. SE.

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