Construction Project Leaving Muddy Mess on Cedar Rapids Road After Every Big Rain

By Dave Franzman, KCRG-TV

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- Tuesday night’s storm left a muddy mess at the bottom of one construction site in Cedar Rapids. And early morning drivers in the 3300 block of Ellis Road N.W. had to wade through an estimated two to four inches of mud on the road before city streets crews could scrape it off. And neighbors say this isn’t the first time they’ve had an erosion issue with the Cedar River Bluffs Apartment project.

One neighbor, Jim Mullenix, said some of the issues began more than two years ago when grading work began on the project which sits on top of a hill overlooking Ellis Road and the Cedar River. Mullenix said contractors addressed some of the issues that resulted after a heavy rain but not all of them.

“It (mud) was in my yard for a while and they did an excellent job of fixing that up so it doesn’t happen again. But this street thing is just ridiculous,” Mullenix said.

Another neighbor, Brenda Harrington, was hosing off both the street in front of her home and her driveway Wednesday morning. She said it only gets bad after a heavy rain — but there was such a rain just a month ago on April 13th and the same thing happened then.

“We got an inch of rain in a short amount of time (Tuesday night) so there was no place for that to go. They’re trying very hard to work on the situation,” Harrington said.

Charlie Rohde, owner of the apartment project, said the erosion situation is a difficult one. But he added that the contractor, Knutson Construction, has tried all sorts of solutions to control erosion and runoff and will try again.

Craig Hanson, Cedar Rapids Public Works Maintenance Manager, agreed the contractor and project owner have worked with the city on a variety of solutions.

In addition to the typical silt fence seen at many projects, workers at the Cedar River Bluffs project also put up concrete “Jersey” barriers usually seen on highway projects to try to stop the runoff. Workers even draped large sheets of plastic over one steep hillside to keep some of the rain off until the final grading is complete and the vegetation begins to take hold.

“They have used multiple different techniques. It’s just that we’ve found they aren’t sufficient to handle the slope or the soil conditions they have at this site,” Hanson said.

Rohde said the eventual solution is to finish grading and get vegetation growing so the rain will soak up rather than run off. He expects a major step forward in that effort in about ten days and believes about 80 percent of the construction site will be safe from severe runoff in two months.

Hanson said the city will bill the contractor and project owner for the Wednesday morning clean up and also will expect the company to either clean out mud in storm sewers or pay the city to do it.

Mullenix, the neighbor, said he may send a bill as well for the cost of taking his muddy car to the carwash.

l Comments: (319) 368-8611; dave.franzman@sourcemedia.net

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