The intersection of Gilbert Street and Kimball Road will be closed for approximately two months, as new storm water culverts are installed under the streets. New sanitary sewers, additional storm sewer intakes and a new water main will also be installed.
The construction is part of the Iowa City Gateway Project. The $59 million project, which broke ground in 2016, is designed to help address flooding problems on Dubuque Street, Park Road and the Park Road crossing of the Iowa River in northwest Iowa City. It’s the largest flood mitigation project the city has undertaken.
“It elevates [Dubuque Street] to provide access when there is flooding on the river,” Melissa Clow, special project administrator for the Iowa City Public Works Department, told Little Village.
Floodwaters swamped Dubuque Street for 54 days in 1993, and made it unusable for a month in 2008, as well as for three weeks in both 2013 and 2014. But the river doesn’t need to rise for Dubuque Street to be flooded.
“We’ve experienced flooding in the streets during flash storms, when we’ve had over an inch of rain in an hour, because the storm sewer doesn’t have the capacity to carry the water to the river,” Clow said. The project will improve drainage and the storm water sewers in the area.
A new Park Road Bridge is also being built as part of the project.
Construction on the entire project is scheduled to finish in October, although Clow stressed that completion dates are dependent on the weather cooperating.
“We’ve experienced in the past that there’s been a week or two when work can’t occur because of weather,” she said. “We don’t want to pour the bridge deck when it’s pouring down rain.”
Construction has slowed traffic on Dubuque Street, which more than 25,000 vehicles a day use the street as a way into and out of Iowa City.
“It’s been a big project, and the public’s been very patient,” Clow said. “The northbound lanes on Dubuque Street are still under construction and look like a warzone, as all the underground utilities are going in.”
Park Road will also close for 60 days in the spring, as the new bridge and the approaches to it are finished. The contractor currently plans for that phase to start in early May, weather permitting.
Paving of the northbound lanes of Dubuque Street is also scheduled to begin in the spring.
“As it gets done, we’ll be opening up more and more of the lanes. That’ll happen through the spring and summer,” Clow said.
Current plans call for all lanes on Dubuque Street and the new bridge to open to traffic by August.