New river bridge causing some concern - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New river bridge causing some concern

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WATERLOO (KWWL)---Thursday marked two years since the Cedar River began to crest.  It was the start to a major flood that wreaked havoc on northeast Iowa.  And as the anniversary comes, a new construction project to replace a bridge damaged by the flood is now underway.  But some are raising concerns that this new bridge could cause problems should there be another flood.

This bridge over the Cedar River was one of the many victims of the 2008 floods.

"The first pier nearest to us collapsed about 22 inches and settled into the river, compromising the entire arch structure," said Al Finke, south unit ranger with the Black Hawk County Conservation Board.

But now, there's new hope.  A brand new bicycle bridge is being built over the river from Evansdale to Waterloo.  And the Federal Emergency Management Association is picking up most of the $2.2 million construction cost.

"This will at least tie back in La Porte and Gilbertville with the metro system and gives us 13 miles of trail for people to use," Finke said.

Despite recent reports that the Cedar River is endangered and that more construction projects could make future flooding worse, officials with the bike bridge project say they've take that into consideration, and it won't be an issue.  TFor starters, the new bridge will be built 7.5 feet higher than the old one.

"Hydrology tells us that the new height of the bridge and the lack of piers that are impeding water flow underneath the bridge, will create less of a problem for people upstream and downstream on future floods," Finke said.

But Michael Elliott, who owns property on the Waterloo side of the bridge, says that's not good enough.  He thinks the planned dike should stop just short of the river banks, rather than being built all the way across the water.

"That would handle a lot more water.  It would keep the water in the channel.  That's basically it.  We just don't want the devastation we had in '08," Elliott said.

Still, county officials and engineers working on the project insist their plans will improve the bridge's flood resistance ability.  The new bridge will be ready for walkers and bikers in the spring of 2011.

KWWL Reporter: Kera Mashek

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