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Flood Control System 

What is the Cedar River Flood Control System?
The Flood Control System will be designed to convey the same water volume as the flood of 2008, reducing flood risk through the heart of Cedar Rapids on both the west and east sides of the river. The system will include a combination of floodwalls, levees and gates, and incorporate aesthetic elements that reflect our community’s culture, history, and vision.

City Council formally adopted the Cedar River Flood Control System Master Plan on June 23, 2015. The master plan is a long-term plan that will provide direction for the implementation and construction of the flood control system, and has been developed to protect as many flood-vulnerable properties as possible.

Fast Facts

  • Designed to convey the same water volume as the flood of 2008
  • Approximately 7 miles long
  • Protects both sides of the river
  • Combination of permanent floodwalls, removable walls, levees and gates (approximately 20 percent removable walls)
  • Incorporates aesthetic elements that reflect culture and history of the community 
  • Includes pump stations and detention basins to protect against rain water flooding as pipes close to protect against river.

Current Initiatives

Time Check Neighborhood 2008 Flood Memorial 
As work continues on the permanent system for both sides of the river, efforts are underway to memorialize and pay homage to the history and resiliency of the Time Check neighborhood. During an open house on March 7, residents saw early concepts of memorialization that seek to celebrate resident perseverance and acknowledge the impacts of the largest natural disaster in Iowa’s history.

Concepts included: 

  • Gateway to the River Memorial Plaza: Situated along O Avenue, the memorial plaza will provide a moment of transition from a reemerging neighborhood to the recreational green spaces adjacent to the Cedar River. 
  • West Side Rising Sculpture: The West Side Rising Sculpture will be an element in the plaza – a tribute to the neighborhoods’ recovery and persistence. A private group has been leading the sculpture design and fundraising campaign.
  • View the open house material
  • Leave feedback: email floodcontrol@cedar-rapids.org

Czech Village Utility Relocations / Levee

  • Utility Relocations: Underway, will last duration of 2017
  • Levee Construction 2018 or 2019
  • First permanent flood control on the west side of the river, since the master plan was adopted
  • Levee will be approximately half a mile long
  • Will provide immediate protection of a river surge up to 19.5 feet
  • Upon the completion of the entire Flood Control System, levee will protect to 2008 volume.
  • Funding made possible through State GRI

CRST RiverwalkRendering of CRST riverwalk

  • Construction complete
  • Providing access to the river was an important element of the Flood Control System.
  • The CRST Riverwalk allows residents a pedestrian walkway along the Cedar River between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, further creating an enjoyable environment downtown.
  • The CRST Riverwalk will be constructed with colored concrete and is anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2016.

Lot 44 Pump StationRendering of brick pump house

  • Construction: 2016 – Spring 2018
  • Lot 44 sits along the river between 8th and 12th Avenues in the NewBo District. 
  • Pumping capacity: 12,000 gallons per minute at opening, with expansion capacity
  • Aesthetics designed to complement neighboring NewBo District
  • Enclosed to enhance aesthetics
  • Includes gates that close to protect from the river backing up through storm sewers
  • Protects community from rain inundation - pumps rainwater back into the Cedar River

Sinclair LeveePhoto of land at Sinclair site

  • Construction: 2016 – End of 2017 
  • Just under half a mile from the African-American Museum to Alliant Substation 
  • 13 feet tall on average 
  • Provides immediate protection to the 40 year flood, approximately 20-foot river crest
  • Upon completion of the entire Flood Control System, will protect against 2008 flood volume. 
  • Includes a 12’ wide concrete bike/pedestrian trail on the top of levee 
  • More than 105,000 cubic yards of impervious fill material in the levee core 
  • More than 40,000 cubic yards of common fill material used to make the side slopes gentler
  • Project includes walls next to 16th Ave to transition to a future gate
Sinclair Detention Basin 

  • Construction: 2016 – End of 2017 
  • 4.4 acres
  • Provides protection in the event of rain inundation 
  • Can safely store rainwater up to 4 feet deep until it can be pumped back into the river
Sinclair Pump Station

  • Construction: 2016 – End of 2017 
  • Capacity of 2,500 gallons per minute at opening, with expansion capability
  • Used when storm sewer system needs to be closed off from the threat of a rising crest
  • Pumps rainwater back over into river in the event of rain inundation

Future initiatives:

8th Avenue Bridge Replacement
Raising/replacing the 80-year-old 8th Avenue Bridge will preserve a heavily travelled connection between both sides of the river in the case of significant flood events. 

Goals of the project include:

  • Provide an additional emergency route across the river to improve flood fighting and other emergency response
  • Maintain access to hospitals, the police department, and I-380 interchange
  • Reduce congestion and improve safety on the interstate during a flood
  • Save money by eliminating the need to build flood protection around an existing bridge, including closure gates 

Preliminary schedule includes:

  • Utility relocations in 2018-2019
  • Bridge construction in 2020-2022
Learn More:

Pump Station Development

Plans are underway to incorporate a pump station into the proposed floodwall at the northwest corner of the 8th Avenue Bridge, near Sunner Park. Public input is being sought to identify expansion opportunities of this pump station, enabling the building to be multi-purposed and serve the community year round.

Open House
Tuesday, May 2
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
NewBo City Market

Examples of proposed development ideas include providing additional public park space and amenities, along with possible retail, restaurant or recreation uses. The 8th Avenue Bridge will have enhanced bike and pedestrian accommodations, which will better connect the NewBo and Kingston Village neighborhoods.

Reducing Our Flood Risk
Since 2008, the City has significantly reduced its flood risk. A history of risk reduction efforts includes

  • Developed interim flood control plan
  • Removed 1,300+ properties from the flood zone
  • Adopted new flood insurance rate maps
  • Updated Floodplain Management Ordinance
  • Secured GRI state funding
  • Improved Water System and raised the City’s wells
  • Upgraded and protected the Water Pollution Control Facility
  • Completed interim levee repairs
  • Raised buildings flooded in 2008
  • Raised two bridges over Prairie Creek
  • Designed and constructed the McGrath Amphitheatre levee
  • Designed the CRST building to include a flood wall
  • Completed improvements to the sanitary sewer system and watershed management practices.
  • Sanitary sewer and watershed management improvements (ongoing) 

At a Glance: Flood Control System Plan 

Plan Includes:

  • Alignment – where the walls, levees, gates, and floodwalls will go on both sides of the river
  • Implementation – what should be built first, and how 
  • Property acquisition and disposition – providing as much flexibility as possible for property owners
  • Budget – what it will cost and the funding sources
  • Aesthetics – how will it look and blend into the community
  • Communication and public outreach – keeping the community, legislatures, and public officials informed.

Total cost estimate is approximately $700 million (over 20 years)

  • 2/3 construction
  • 1/3 design, permitting, and other pre-construction services

Funding is combination of Federal, State, and City dollars (estimates based on 2015 dollars)

  • $78M Federal Army Corps funding (approved, but not yet appropriated)
  • $267M State GRI funding 
  • $110M City Match
  • $11.5M Federal CDBG Disaster Recovery Grant

View the master plan in its entirety: Flood Control System Master Plan (updated 8-9-16) 

Stay Informed
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