(Iowa City) The Iowa City City Council has unanimously voted for a scaled-back gateway project.
The plan is to raise a stretch of Dubuque Street near City Park to a foot above the 100-year flood plain. Council member Michelle Payne says it won’t serve as a flood wall.
“The purpose of raising the road isn’t to keep the water in the river, it’s to keep the road open so that we have the entrance into the city so people don’t have to take alternate routes during a blooding situation,” explained Payne.
City staff had recommended raising the road to the 200-year flood elevation, but Payne says the cost outweighed the benefit.
“The cost goes up obviously the higher you build the road and we didn’t feel that the difference in the cost was worth the environmental impacts that it will have to raise the road 29 more inches, so basically there is a diminishing return,” said Payne.
She said the council vote is the first step in the process which will take several years to complete.
“My understanding is that it will be bid this year, it won’t start until next year; so that’s 2015, it will take two years to get it done, so 2017,” said Payne.
Payne says there’s plenty of time for the public to weigh-in on the project.
“The consultant and city staff will begin designing the road and there will be a meeting for public comment, but the public is invited to provide their input to the city staff at any point in time during the design phase and even after the design phase,” said Payne. “So like the lane widths, and sidewalk widths, should there be sidewalks on both sides of the street, should there be turn lanes?”
The total cost of the project is estimated around $36 million. Raising Dubuque Street to a foot above the 100-year flood plain is the lowest the city could go and still receive a $10.5 million federal grant for the project.
Iowa Radio Network