The city of Cedar Rapids has developed a billion dollar flood recovery plan — a series of levees and flood walls — that officials say could take up to 15 years to complete. Mayor Kay Halloran is hoping the economic stimulus package that Congress and President-elect Obama promise to pass in early 2009 includes money for a few flood-related projects in Cedar Rapids.
“Some of the things we were getting ready to bond for, but if they need projects that they call ‘shovel ready’ — ready to put a payroll together within 90 to 120 days — we’ve got the projects and we’ve got the designs completed and all we have to do is start building,” Halloran says. However, most of the new measures to protect the City of Cedar Rapids from future flooding are still in the planning stage. Halloran says she hopes the Army Corps of Engineers settles on a final design as quickly as possible.
“We expect that it will take two to four years to get that design done and we’re ready for that just as soon as it comes,” Halloran says. “Any part of it that’s ready sooner, we’ll be ready to proceed with it. In fact, our last conversation with the Corps of Engineers at Rock Island, we told them that we would even front some of the design money if that would get the project moving.”
In October, a consultant hired by the city laid out a plan that calls for seven miles of levees and flood walls to protect homes and businesses in Cedar Rapids from a surging Cedar River. The city’s mayor says there are many other public works projects in Cedar Rapids that might qualify for part of the “economic stimulus” money.
“We don’t have time to wait. We have plenty of damage already done which needs to be repaired and replaced,” Halloran says, “so as long as the federal government is available and ready and willing to invest in these kinds of projects, we will have projects for them.” About 10 square miles of Cedar Rapids was covered by flood waters in June, damaging streets, sewers and other public utilities.