Renderings Detail Proposed Levees for Dubuque Street in Iowa City

By Emily Busse

Rendering of the proposal to raise Dubuque Street and Park Road Bridge to prevent flooding.

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By Adam Carros

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa City released renderings earlier than initially planned on Wednesday, showing what Dubuque Street and Park Road Bridge could look like when the Gateway elevation project is finished.

The project aims to elevate the bridge and roadway because its current low elevation and close proximity to the Iowa River has resulted in frequent flooding.

Special Projects Administrator Melissa Clow said they decided the release the draft renderings to address public questions and concerns about how the project would affect the area.

“The public has had a lot of questions about what it’s going to look like and we've stated in our public meetings that we’re maintaining the same feeling that we currently have,” she said. “It’s a very natural and unique corridor, and we wanted to put these out there to show them this is the direction we’re heading.”

The renderings show how the area would look if the city council decides to move forward with the highest impact choice: raising the roadways to protection for a 500-year flood. Clow said they will also prepare renderings for the city council that depict lower flood protection levels.

“These show them the maximum footprint or maximum impact it would have on adjacent properties,” Clow said.

According to the city, Dubuque Street carries more than 25,000 vehicles a day and is plagued by flooding. It was flooded for 54 days in 1993 and for a month in 2008. Most recently, floodwater closed the street earlier this summer.

Tomorrow night, Clow said the Historic Preservation Commission is meeting to decide whether they will stand by their support of the project, initially expressed in August 2012. Clow said the commission may also discuss recommendations for the project, which are “welcomed.”

The next step is to submit the final environmental assessment of the project to the Federal Highway Administration and the Iowa Department of Transportation in hopes of receiving a Finding of No Significant Impact.

“That would be the approval that we need from the federal agency to move forward with the final design,” Clow said. “At that point, we can minimize the impact on adjacent properties, the council would determine the final protection level that we design to, and we can go from there.”

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