IOWA CITY — Seventeen projects, $158 million: That’s the tally for flood-mitigation projects the city of Iowa City has identified.
None of the projects discussed during last night’s work session is new, but city staffers gave the City Council its first comprehensive flood update in a while.
The projects result from the Floods of 2008. Iowa City is on its third city manager since then, and only two of the seven council members from that time are still serving, Public Works Director Rick Fosse noted.
“It’s been a long time since the flood,” he said.
The city has received commitments for $102.8 million in federal and state funds toward the $158 million total. A voter-approved local-option sales tax is estimated to generate another $32.8 million for flood projects over its four-year life, Fosse said.
The projects discussed last night are intended to combat future flooding, and Fosse drew a distinction between those and recovery projects.
They include the $54.8 million relocation of the north wastewater treatment plant, which flooded in 2008, to the south plant. It’s the largest public works project in city history, Fosse said, and is 10 percent done and scheduled for completion in spring 2014.
That project comes in second to Iowa City’s top public infrastructure priority: the elevation of Dubuque Street and the Park Road bridge, to start construction in 2014 and finish a year later. The current $32 million estimate for what the city is calling the Gateway Project likely is low because of the complexity of the work that will be needed with the bridge, Fosse said. An updated estimate is not yet available.
Near the street and bridge is Taft Speedway Street, upon which the city has proposed building a levee. That would leave nine homes on Taft Speedway between the levee and the Iowa River. Those homeowners, along with some from the Parkview Terrace neighborhood, have been fighting against the levee. Meanwhile, owners of units in a condominium complex the levee would protect are advocating for its construction.
A study looking at the effects of the levee is in draft form and should be ready for review in October or November. The council will then be asked whether it supports the levee.
The one-hour discussion was intended as a presentation and the merits of the projects were not debated. But council members asked the most questions about the Taft Speedway levee, including the history of buyouts, flood insurance and whether the $8 million secured for the levee could be used on another project.
David Purdy, a community development planner for the city, said the state has said the funds could not be automatically transferred to another project, but the city could ask the state to let the money go toward something else.
Mayor Matt Hayek praised the amount of work city staffers have put into flood recovery and mitigation.
“It’s incredible to look back four-plus years and recall that time,” he said.