DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
A major flood mitigation project is continuing to shape up, and some of the latest designs are now available for public viewing.
The Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project aims to reduce flooding in Dubuque's North End neighborhood.
The Bee Branch is a creek the city of Dubuque buried about a century ago, to route storm water more effectively. Now, it's that very underground path that's causing flooding.
Deron Muehring is a civil engineer with the city of Dubuque and has been at the helm of the
Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project.
"The buried sewer there, the buried creek, it can only carry so much water," he explained, "so typical design standards today, it would probably be five times as big as this buried sewer is now."
He said the underground creek/storm sewer has caused occasional catastrophic flooding in the North End neighborhood.
"There's anywhere between 1,100 or 1,400 properties that are impacted by these intense rain storms," Muehring said. "There's about 70 businesses in the impacted area."
The entire Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project is a 12-phase project estimated at more than $179 million and slated for completion in 2020.
One of the more noticeable and public elements of the project, however, is the Upper Bee Branch Creek Restoration, which is scheduled for completion in 2016. That part of the project includes unearthing to now-buried Bee Branch Creek and creating a public park and recreation trails along a several-block stretch, running from Dubuque's Rhomberg Avenue to 24th Street.
"There may be some landscaping that, you know, just tweaking here and there in the early spring of 2017," Muehring said of the Upper Bee Branch Creek Restoration, but added it will be "basically functional by 2016."
Right now, the areas slated to hold the exposed Bee Branch Creek and public parks are simply green spaces. Muehring said the Upper Bee Branch Creek Restoration has been split into two parts.
The first part involves building a trail system under the Canadian Pacific Railroad tracks, connecting the Upper Bee Branch to the Lower Bee Branch. Negotiations with Canadian Pacific have been ongoing for a couple of years, but Muehring said he expects an agreement to be reached this summer, with bids for construction going out shortly after.
The second part of the Upper Bee Branch Creek Restoration involves the unearthing of the creek and construction of the park areas around it. Muehring said he expects ground to break on that as early as fall of 2015, with completion scheduled for 2016.
City officials expect the entire flood mitigation project to alleviate flooding and, in turn, save homeowners money. Since 1999, Muehring said, Dubuque has received six presidential disaster declarations from related flooding, with damage estimates of nearly $70 million.
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