Local Government

Iowa City Gateway Project bid comes back $10 million below estimate

Work on the flood mitigation project should start this year

This draft rendering shows how Dubuque Street and the Park Road bridge could look when the Iowa City Gateway Project is
This draft rendering shows how Dubuque Street and the Park Road bridge could look when the Iowa City Gateway Project is completed. The project aims to elevate the roadway and the bridge to protect against flooding. (Courtesy of Iowa City)
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IOWA CITY — Iowa City looks to save more than $10 million on the city’s massive flood mitigation project to elevate Dubuque Street and build a new Park Road Bridge.

Ron Knoche, Iowa City public works director, said bid letting for the Gateway Project — which was carried out by the Iowa Department of Transportation as the project includes federal funds — closed Tuesday.

Knoche said a $40.6 million estimate from Reinbeck’s Peterson Contractors Inc. was the most favorable of the four bids received. City staff estimated the project to cost about $52 million.

“It was a really good bidding climate for us,” Knoche said. “We had a bid that was roughly $10 million under the estimate, we’re definitely happy with the outcome of the bids.”

Knoche said two additional bids came in at about $45.6 million and the highest bid was about $52.5 million.

Staff will ultimately recommend a bid to the Iowa City Council for approval, possibly as soon as next month, but Knoche said his initial thoughts are that Peterson Contractors will get the nod of approval from staff.

The project will be funded with government grants and local sales option sales tax and bond proceeds.

Knoche attributed the favorable bid to the local construction climate.

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“There seems to be a little bit of a slow down right now in regards to utility and road projects,” he said. “It’s made it a very good bidding climate for us.”

As for the Gateway Project, which has been discussed, debated and vetted since the 2008 flood, Knoche said receiving low bids was a pleasant surprise. Over the years, delays have pushed the price tag up.

“It’s an exciting time. This was a project that, as we continued down the road and things were delayed and we were looking at the project numbers, there was a concern that we wouldn’t be able to afford the project,” he said.

The Gateway Project is intended to eliminate the need to close the north end of Dubuque Street when significant flooding occurs — an event that has become increasingly common. The section of Dubuque Street near the University of Iowa’s Mayflower Hall has closed for a length of time in 2008, 2013 and 2014 due to flooding.

Tree removal along Dubuque Street was completed earlier this spring and the main focus this year will be to finish updates to Park Road near Riverside Drive, to prepare the area for the September opening of Hancher Auditorium.

“We want to be out of that area, or have minimal impacts in that area, after Hancher opens up,” Knoche said.

Elevating Dubuque Street and building the new Park Road Bridge will take up the bulk of the 2017 season.

If finished by the projected completion date, the Gateway Project will be done 10 years after the 2008 flood that prompted it.

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