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Alliant to Remove Above-ground Lines from Downtown Steam System

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Alliant Energy has begun the long process of decommissioning the Sixth Street Generating Station damaged in the Cedar River flood of 2008 by removing above ground steam lines.

Alliant Energy spokesman Justin Foss said the utility recently removed several hundred feet of steam line under I-380 on the east side of the lake as part of a project to lease a new parking site to St. Luke's Hospital.

The utility plans to remove all of the above ground steam lines around Cedar Lake, Foss said, but the project does not have a fixed timetable at this point.

Two coal storage ponds in the same area of Cedar Lake also will be cleaned up as part of the same project, according to Foss. A crane that had been used for coal handling at the site near I-380 was removed several months ago.

The elevated steam lines are an unsightly feature to one of the most visible areas of Cedar Rapids from I-380 and recreational trail users around the lake. They have long distributed steam from the power plant to industries on the north and south sides of the lake, and to St. Luke's Hospital.

The steam stopped flowing in 2010 when Alliant Energy shut down a temporary natural-gas powered steam system that it used as a temporary replacement for the coal-generated steam from the power plant.

Decommissioning the power plant is expected to involve removal of the power plant building, and an undetermined amount of environmental cleanup. Foss said there's no specific timetable for the huge order of work, and the utility is still sorting out funding sources for the project.

"Part of it is, you've got to start someplace," Foss said, adding that the steam lines served a "very specific purpose" for which they are no longer needed. He noted that the metal in the lines is also salvageable for scrap.

The decommissioning provides a window of opportunity to redevelop Cedar Lake into a major recreational amenity similar to Gray's Lake Park in Des Moines, according to Dale Todd. He said the city already has a master plan for lake redevelopment.

Todd said that so far, he's seen no indication that either the city or Alliant want to take responsibility for the water quality of the lake, a key component of the redevelopment.

"Cedar Lake is like a poor stepchild and nobody wants to take it on," Todd said.

Foss said he believes city leaders have ideas for the lake, but the work will have many different parts and take a combination of different entities working together.

St. Luke's Hospital spokeswoman Sarah Corizzo said the Alliant site will be used to create 84 parking spots for employees, avoiding the need for them to cross First Avenue in order to park.

The parking area at the northwest edge of the hospital campus off Coe Road NE is expected to open in early August at a cost of $300,000 in concrete work. Corizzo said the hospital also entered into a long-term lease agreement with Alliant for the land, expressing appreciation for Alliant's help.

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