Flood protection takes steps at CRST site, amphitheater entrance

By Rick Smith, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — The City Council took two interesting steps Tuesday night for Cedar River flood protection.

In the first, the council agreed to an arrangement where CRST International Inc. will incorporate a flood wall and pump station vault into the construction of the company’s $37-million, 11-story office tower in the 200 block of First Street SE along the Cedar River.

Sandy Pumphrey, the city’s project engineer for flood mitigation, said the CRST building designers have worked in concert with the Army Corps of Engineers to assure that the flood protection elements in the CRST project will meet Corps standards and will fit the Corps’ design for the rest of the city’s flood protection system on the east side of the river.

The council last night also agreed to then purchase the flood protection elements in the CRST project for $3.95 million once the city is satisfied the elements were built to acceptable standards.

In answer to a question from Mayor Ron Corbett, Pumphrey said the city’s engineering staff and City Council members will weigh in on the appearance of this section of flood wall as CRST completes its final design.

Council member Scott Olson asked Pumphrey if the city could be assured that the city’s $3.95 million will buy only flood-protection elements and not pay for a part of the CRST building foundation. Pumphrey told Olson that CRST’s contractor, Ryan Companies US Inc., has provided a detailed accounting of what is flood protection and what is foundation.

Work on the construction site, across from the Alliant Energy tower, already has begun.

In a second flood-protection matter, the City Council agreed to seek proposals from manufacturers of removable flood walls for a demonstration project at the entrance to the McGrath Amphitheatre on the west side of the Cedar River.

Pillars already are in place as part of the amphitheater entrance and are designed for removable wall panels to fit between them when a risk of a major flood occurs.

Pumphrey said the city hopes to attract interest from as many as three manufacturers. The plan is to try out one or more systems to see which might work best for the city.

The city’s flood protection system in the downtown, Kingston Village and Czech Village will feature attractive pillars between which removable panels will be placed at the time of a flood.

The cost of the demonstration project is estimated to be $250,000, and it includes training on how to put the panels in place.

Council member Monica Vernon asked Public Works Director Dave Elgin to figure out a way to educate the public about the expense of flood protection and how much of a flood wall system is below ground, often is driven into bedrock and isn’t seen.

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