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Construction Crews Mark Halfway Point on Cedar Rapids Amphitheater

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa Construction crews marked the halfway point of construction at the site of the new Cedar Rapids Amphitheater, with only about eight months remaining on the project.

Not only will the amphitheater provide a space for outdoor entertainment, it also will act as a levee system for future flooding. The piece of the west side flood protection system will span from about Third Avenue Southwest to the Cedar Rapids Police Station.

City leaders said the project was a big step because it includes the first piece of any kind of levee system that has gone up in Cedar Rapids since the flood. Crews are working on constructing a flood wall. It spans about 100 feet and connects up with a 600 foot earthen levee. Crews designed the levee to protect the city from another flood like 2008. Along with the levee, a stage, seating for thousands of people and a trail system are under construction.

City workers said the space would be a great place to enjoy the river, but they know the levee system doesn't mean much now. "It won't do anything yet. To have flood protection fully functional it would need to be constructed on the whole length of the flood area," said Cedar Rapids Flood Recovery Construction Coordinator Doug Carper. "This would just divert water around it right now."

Some, however, are still finding hope in the. Al Pierson's flower shop sits on the west side of the river and was under eight feet of water in 2008. "I think the amphitheater is going to be a great project for the city. It's good to see the beginning of the levee system started. We just need to figure out how we can continue to pay for it," said Al Pierson.

City workers say there are no plans to continue the work on extending the levee on the west side of the river. People have voted down a local-option sales tax two times that would have helped pay for it.

Workers plan to continue construction on portions of the project throughout the winter. They're also using every minute of the nice weather to get ahead. "This is a bonus for the contractors and the workers. This nice of weather this late in the year, they can get more done. It's just nice for the workers and contractors," Carper said.

Carper added that most of the project was paid for by private donations and state funding. The amphitheater and levee project construction is expected to wrap up by the summer of 2013.