Bee Branch project moving ahead with property removal - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bee Branch project moving ahead with property removal

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Things are moving along with a $32 million project to stop flooding in a north Dubuque neighborhood. The costly and lengthy flood prevention job is called the Bee Branch Creek resoration project and involves removing dozens of homes and businesses to create a drainage basin for storm water.

This project has been in the works for years, with the city acquiring a lot of commercial and residential property. City engineers saying taking out some property is really to save more than one thousand homes and businesses from future flood damage.

Crews are taking down the first large building this week, an old commercial structure damaged by fire years ago. As planned for the entire building removal process, it's being deconstructed, not demolished.

"You systematically go through the building and salvage items for resale, reuse, that type of thing, recycling," Dubuque Civil Engineer Daron Muehring said.

With this step, some neighbors are seeing their homes closer to being gone.

"Nobody's happy about it," Regine Ronek, a renter on Maple Street, said.

It's all to expose Bee Branch creek as an open waterway, to give storm water a place to go, instead of people's basements. It's an old problem under the ground. The existing sewer has to accomadate seven square miles of storm water, and city engineers say during a heavy storm, it can't do that.

In fact, they say it would take the equivalent of four new sewers just to accomadate all that water, and engineers say cost and maintenence make a new storm sewer system impractical.

"The cost of doing something of that manner is two to three times as much as it would be to build the open waterway," Muehring said.

They add the open waterway can hold more water and will also act as a community park.

For now, some people have left their homes. Others are holding out, waiting until the trucks come their way.

"They've been talking for years of doing something down here, and taking all these buildings, and now it's starting to happen. But until they come to talk to me, i'm not going to worry about it anymore," Ronek said.

Engineers aren't sure when they'll be able to deconstruct certain homes because they need special state approval since some of the buildings have historic significance or architecture. They hope to get through the regulations by late this summer.

The city still needs to aquire a couple more homes which officials say should be done this month. The city also needs to buy around six commercial buildings farther upstream.

Muehring said all of the money for the project is already in the city's five year capitol budget plan.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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