Construction on Iowa City flood levee to start next month

Levee to protect Baculis, Thatcher mobile home parks, some neighboring businesses

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Construction will start next month on a levee along the Iowa River in southern Iowa City to try to prevent flooding in a neighborhood with mobile homes and businesses.

The City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved a $4.5 million contract with Iowa Bridge & Culvert out of Washington, Iowa. The company had the low bid out of eight received, and it was more than $1 million below the city’s estimate. The cost will be covered by federal Community Development Block Grants.

The 3,000-foot-long earthen levee will go on the west side of the Iowa River between the CRANDIC railroad bridge and McCollister Boulevard.

The area flooded in 2008 and 1993, and the levee will protect about 20 businesses in the area and the Baculis and Thatcher mobile home parks. The structure will be three feet above 100-year flood levels, said Jason Reichart, the city’s special projects engineer.

Some of the mobile home residents have in the past argued against the levee, saying it is unnecessary because an earthen berm erected by the Baculis owners in 1993 has kept them protected.

But that berm was supposed to be temporary and was not professionally constructed, so the city cannot guarantee its quality and safety, Reichart said. Also, it only extends a portion of the riverbank and does not stop water coming in from the north or south, he said.

The berm will be removed during construction of the new levee.

Construction is scheduled to start this May and last until November 2014.

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