Government

Flood damaged Iowa River bank to be restored in Iowa City near Highway 6

University of Iowa graduate Rion Smith of Iowa City takes a photograph from an inflatable boat at the corner of Riverside Drive and Sturgis Corner Dr. Saturday, June 14, 2008 in Iowa City. (Gazette File)
University of Iowa graduate Rion Smith of Iowa City takes a photograph from an inflatable boat at the corner of Riverside Drive and Sturgis Corner Dr. Saturday, June 14, 2008 in Iowa City. (Gazette File)

IOWA CITY — For more than a decade, Assurance Property Management co-owner Tom Bender has watched as the Iowa River has worn away at the riverbank behind two of his properties on Sturgis Corner near Highway 6.

“We’ve had some pretty good chunks fall off into the river and float away,” Bender said Tuesday.

The 2008 flood and subsequent flooding in 2013, 2014 and 2018 have significantly eroded the western bank of the Iowa River at Sturgis Corner. Now, the city of Iowa City is working to undo that damage and stabilize the bank, which is across the river from Riverfront Crossings Park. Trees have been removed, and later this summer, crews will use rocks and a retaining wall to shore up the bank.

The river stabilization is expected to cost about $1.2 million. Peterson Contractors of Reinbeck is handling the project. Ben Clark, the city’s senior civil engineer, said the first phase of the work involved removing trees along the bank, which had to be cleared before April 1.

The project will continue this summer, Clark said.

“We’re waiting for the water to go down,” he said.

Once the river level is low enough, crews will construct a fish habitat below the water level using large stones. Another layer of large limestone boulders will be placed along the riverbank to prevent future erosion, and a retaining wall also will be built, Clark said. The project is anticipated to be complete by the end of the summer.

Though not part of this project, the bank restoration will allow the city to move forward with adding a trail behind the buildings on Sturgis Corner that will connect with the existing trail further upriver.

Bender said he’s had conversations with the city in recent years about restoring the bank, and he’s glad to see that work begin. While he’ll miss the eagles that would roost in the trees that have been removed, Bender said his tenants now can enjoy a view of Riverfront Crossings Park and will take advantage of the trail once it is complete.

“It’ll be a nice addition to the area,” Bender said.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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