Kirkwood water tower demolition begins

Construction on new tower to begin in 2017

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Demolition began this week on a rusty old water tower on the south east side of Cedar Rapids.

Called the Kirkwood Standpipe, the 80-foot-tall, sky blue-colored structure near the Kirkwood Community College campus is coming down panel-by-panel, with blow torches cutting the steel apart.

“We want to do it safely,” said Bruce Jacobs, the Cedar Rapids utilities engineering manager. “I haven’t seen a schedule, but I would expect it to be done within a month.”

Eventually, a taller tower with a 1.5 million gallon capacity will go up nearby. Construction is expected to begin by summer 2017 and take 18 to 24 months to complete, Jacobs said.

Renderings show an almost white tower standing 110 feet tall with a wide bulb at the top. “Cedar Rapids” will be painted in black letters.

Some want that “point of community pride,” Jacobs said of the lettering. The tower will be visible from Interstate 380, although it may be hard to read the city’s name from that far away.

The entire project including design, demolition, site work and the new tower is estimated to cost $4.3 million and be paid for over three fiscal years from 2017 to 2019. Contractors can bid on the new tower part of the project — estimated at $3 million — in January.

The old tower, built in 1976, had been out of service since 2008 when leaks were detected. Since then, the C Street SW tower has provided service to the area.

It wasn’t practical to fix the old Kirkwood Standpipe, and until now it couldn’t be removed because U.S. Cellular had a contract to use space on the tower, city officials said. The contract has ended and cell towers will not return when the new tower is built, Jacobs said.

D.W. Zinser Co. of Walford has the $53,000 demolition contract.

The new tower will provide increased water pressure for the area, reduce the service area for the C Street SW tower and help maintain a consistent outflow at the water plant during peak demand times.

“It is the first new elevated tank in 20 years,” Jacobs said, noting the last built was the C Street SW tower in 1995.

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