On Thursday, thousands of RAGBRAI riders will be in Cedar Rapids, where RAGBRAI will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
And with thousands of visitors coming to town, what do you do? You clean up. And the city’s been doing that, while planning for this visit for months.
Since the 2008 flood, Cedar Rapids has had a laundry list of projects to complete, from demolishing buildings in the flood zone, to street repairs, and landscaping in city parks. And some of the smaller projects are under way this week.
One of those last minute projects is putting the concert stage for the Counting Crows together, which happened Tuesday night in front of the Alliant Tower. It’s just one of a seemingly never ending “to do list” for city and county staff.
It’s all hands on deck for public safety agencies in Cedar Rapids and Linn County.
“Our goal is to work seamlessly and be in the background of the event,” said Area Ambulance Service’s Bob Ugarph.
Other departments hope their work is done long before riders get to town.
“We want to make sure those bike tires are rolling pretty easy on the roads,” said Sandi Fowler, assistant to the Cedar Rapids City Manager.
It started with a smart phone app, “Clean-up CR.” A team of city leaders used their cell phones to start a tally of what needed repair before RAGBRAI.
“They took a picture of every place along the route they thought needed some attention, something to look at,” said Fowler.
Now fresh pavement on 12th Avenue SE carries riders into town and through the New Bohemia District. Major work on Ellis Boulevard leads riders to a campsite. Beautifying that area meant demolishing flood-damaged homes.
You’ll notice the road work, but another group hopes to stay behind the scenes.
” We’ll have the ability to care for any RAGBRAI riders that may need anything, from a (bandage) to advanced life support type care,” Ugarph said.
Area Ambulance Service and the fire department will deploy four ATVs they call “RAGBRAI Ready” at three campsites and downtown.
“The ATV really gives us the flexibility to move around and carry our equipment with us and take us into areas we can’t go with an ambulance or fire truck,” said Ugarph.
In addition to those roving ATVs, you’ll also notice large safety centers stationed in each campsite and downtown with medical equipment, police officers, and others equipped to help in emergency situations. City leaders say you’ll notice the majority of road blocks, signage, and stage set-up early Thursday morning.