Road over Coralville dam open, but severe weather could slow outflow decreases

Residents that were forced to evacuate are still waiting to go back into their homes

Published: June 11 2013 | 2:45 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 4:27 pm in
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The road across the Coralville dam is now open to the public after being closed on June 3 due to flooding concerns.

The road was re-opened around noon on Tuesday, just in time for the Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade to make its way across the dam on the second day of its route, according to a release from the Johnson County Emergency Management Agency. Access to Tailwater East and Cottonwood campgrounds also opened Tuesday.

As the water level continues to lower at the reservoir — which stood at 705.5 feet above sea level on Tuesday — Terry Neuzil, public information officer for the Johnson County Emergency Management Agency, said the Army Corps of Engineers hopes to decrease outflows to 14,000 cubic feet per second by Saturday. Neuzil said the Corps, and emergency officials, will begin to feel better once the reservoir reaches an elevation of around 702 feet.

Residents in three areas that were forced into evacuation are also waiting for the clear to go back to their homes, and Neuzil said that would likely happen once outflows have decreased to 15,000 cfs. He said the Johnson County Sheriff's Department is also expected to lift the ban on recreational use on the Iowa River and its tributaries around that time.

Neuzil said more roads will begin to re-open as outflows at the dam decrease over the coming days, though the timetable for those decreases could be threatened by severe weather over the next 24 to 48 hours. Once outflows decrease from 17,500 cfs to below 12,000 cfs, he said floodwaters will recede enough for Dubuque Street to re-open for damage assessments and cleanup.

Neuzil anticipated cleanup in that area could begin early next week.

Though the National Weather Service reported no precipitation in the Iowa River Basin Monday evening, there is still a chance for severe thunderstorms on Wednesday — including strong wind, large hail and tornadoes — with a possibility of 1/4 to 1/2 inches of rain. That is expected to be followed by a break in precipitation on Thursday and Friday with the chance of more rain over the weekend.

Neuzil said the Emergency Management Agency is keeping an eye on those storms and entities will adjust their plans as necessary.

"It won't take a lot of elevation on the Iowa River to have some impact, particularly on Rockyshore Drive and even the potential for some backup on some of the creek systems near Iowa City," Neuzil said.

Iowa City officials said they will continue to monitor that area, as well as CRANDIC park, Iowa Avenue near the railroad underpass, South Gilbert Street and the intersection at Riverside Drive and River Street.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the following roads in Johnson County remain closed:

• 140th Street east of Ely Road (at the ATV Park)

• Sandy Beach Road (at the beach)

• River Junction Road, south of Otter Creek Road

• Y Avenue off of Tri County Bridge Road

• Swan Lake between Greencastle and Halfmoon and other locations as needed

• Amana Road between Falcon and Blain Cemetery

• Izaak Walton

• Sand Road SE from 560th Street to Highway 22

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