Elliot: 30,000 dump trucks


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Old Hancher is coming down, a victim of the 2008 flood (we’ll note that it was one flood, not “floods,” as many people term it), and all I can think (such as I think, which is not all that often) is good.

It’s not that I didn’t have many good (well, great) times there; it’s just that I always thought Hancher was ugly. Good riddance.

I know I’m in the minority about that, but I’m used to that. I also believe that the Gehry building (technically, the Iowa Advanced Technology Labs) is an astoundingly beautiful facility, if you stand on the west bank of the river and view it from there. And I’m probably in the minority about that. So what.

It’s not that I don’t have many fond memories of shows in old Hancher, because I do. And I promise not to bore you with them. Other people’s memories of grand old times are so often yawners. Have you ever noticed? I thought so.

One memory, though, endures for me: It was a Yo-Yo Ma concert (I think The Daily Iowan referred to him as Yo Ma-Ma, but, you know, memory often lies to you almost as often as Republicans do). After the first piece, a young Pieta Brown (she was around 17) turned to me with eyes bigger than the Harvest Moon and mouthed the word “Wow.”

You can’t buy that sort of thing anywhere. Not even on eBay.

 I’m thinking about old Hancher not because I revere the place but because its demolition is part of the flood-recovery effort, if we can term it an “effort.” It seems to be more of a Sisyphean process — you know, every time we push the boulder up to the top of the hill, it rolls back down. Then we start all over again.

I get it that we’re dealing with a bureaucracy (I’ve dealt with bureaucracies before; talk about a Sisphyean task). But still. Five years and counting. And counting.

Oh, we’ll eventually get Hancher back (it’ll be interesting to see if they call it that). And a music-school facility. And, perhaps, the Dubuque Street/Gateway project.

Ah, yes, Gateway. I’ve seen the pretty pictures of raising North Dubuque Street 15 feet or so. They are pretty, but that may be because I was expecting something ugly enough to be worthy of Chicago.

And I thought, at first, well, that might not be so bad. It does do something that it seems we should do: raise North Dubuque so it doesn’t flood every other year or so.

But then a source (a deep, deep source) told me about the dump trucks. Yes, dump trucks.

They, of course, will be necessary to provide the fill needed to raise Dubuque Street 15 feet or so from roughly Foster Road to the Park Road bridge. OK, we need the fill, ergo, we need the dump trucks.

Which brings to the question of how many dump trucks do we need?

My source tells me (drumroll) tens and tens of thousands of dump trucks. Perhaps 30,000.

Thirty thousand dump trucks. Can you imagine 30,000 dump trucks rolling through town? And you thought traffic was bad now.

My source also tells me that if you used semi trucks to provide the fill, and if you placed them nose to tail on Interstate 80 heading east, the semis would stretch from here to most of the way to Chicago.


I’m all for flood mitigation. But it was a lousy idea in the first place to put the Arts Campus on the banks of the Iowa River (thanks, Virgil Hancher).

But 30,000 dump trucks. What’s next — we blow up the Moon to provide dust cover in order to mitigate climate change?

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