Cedar Rapids confident in future of permanent flood protection plan

Published: Mar. 19, 2019 at 10:16 PM CDT
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Once again, the City of Cedar Rapids had to put up temporary flood protection, setting up HESCO barriers in low-lying problem areas.

But the city said, someday, they hope workers won't have to scramble like this when the river rises.

The two projects the city is focusing on this year are the Quaker Oats flood wall and a levy in Czech Village.

Flood plan project manager Rob Davis said, eventually, Cedar Rapids will have a permanent flood plan.

"We're making progress and it's evident on days like [Tuesday] we have a lot less to do," said Davis. "We don't have to have the whole system done to have it be effective."

Davis calls this week's 18.32 crest, a blip compared to years passed.

"Statistically, this isn't a major flood anymore," said Davis. "This is more of a routine, nuisance flood. We really need to get permanent flood protection at a much higher level than this."

Davis is hoping to finish the east side project in the next five years

and the west side by 2033.

"We're looking at putting permanent flood protection for 24 or 25 [feet] then we'll be removable at the top of that," said Davis.

"Obviously the flood wall is the number one priority," said First District Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer.

She toured the city's bridges and river areas Tuesday, checking out just how needed it really is.

"Flooding continues and the risk of flooding continues. The need for these projects continues to exasperate every year that we put this off, the need continues to put this off," said Finkenauer.

The ticket price for the plan is $750 million. Broken down, $267 million will come from the state of Iowa's sales tax program while $264 million will come from the city of Cedar Rapids and hopefully federal dollars to make up most if not all of the remaining chunk.

Finkenauer said she's confident it will happen.

"We are determined to get the funding, move this forward, and again send it over to the Senate and get this done," said Finkenauer.