More Massive Cranes To Pop Up In Iowa City

By Mark Carlson, Iowa City Bureau Chief

Construction cranes loom over the stands during Iowa's game against Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in Iowa City. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa — If you’ve spent time in Iowa City lately, you’ve likely noticed construction cranes scattered across the area. Four of the cranes are currently working on University of Iowa projects and four more will go up in the next several months.

“There is no doubt they will be a skyline feature here for some time,” said Rod Lehnertz, the University of Iowa’s director of planning, design and construction. “By this winter we’ll have eight [cranes] on our campus.”

Perhaps the most visible crane is expected to be added at the corner of Clinton and Burlington streets.

“We will see the school of music site add two cranes this winter, one will be 240 feet high,” Lehnertz said. “That will be an obvious feature of the downtown and University area.”

Cranes already stand at the site of the new children’s hospital, Hancher Auditorium and along Grand Avenue where a new residence hall is being built. “We’ve never done this much building all at one time in our history,” said University of Iowa President Sally Mason. “It’s history making, it’s exciting and I think it says a lot about where we’re headed.”

Hawkeye football fans have likely noticed a crane operator looking down upon the field on Saturdays. Lehnertz said the operator is simple there to keep the crane from swinging over the field. “If he’s a Hawkeye fan he’s got a great seat, but he’s required to be there,” he said. “Regardless of how safe they are we don’t want them hovering over the crowd or the stadium.”

It takes crane operators about 20 minutes to climb to the top.

“On windy days it can get pretty rough,” said Ben Bunn, an operator for Miron Construction, the company working to build the new residence hall. “The helicopters from the hospital are kind of interesting, they get kind of close sometimes.”

Lehnertz said each crane project is reviewed by the FAA before construction begins. “They’ll let us know about the cranes and we deal with them,” said Paul Horstman, an AirCare pilot. “We are very aware of our surroundings at all times.”

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