Flood mitigation construction continues on schedule


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Despite flooding and other setbacks, flood-mitigation project construction at the Iowa Memorial Union and Mayflower Residence Hall are continuing on as planned.

“This summer as a campus, we were as vulnerable as we’ve been since the 2008 flood with the construction going on right now,” said Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management.

Lehnertz said despite the flood danger this summer at both Mayflower and the IMU, the UI, along with contractors, have been able to keep pace with the expected project finish date.

The budget for the two remain unchanged, Lehnertz said, and the combined bid for the two projects is just under $25.7 million, as officials built in incidental funds for extra hours into the budget.

The flood-mitigation projects, which have a projected completion date in 2015, aim to raise the flood-protection level of UI buildings to the 500-year flood level with an additional two feet for extra safety.

“The 2008 flood has been what we think is close to 500-year levels,” Lehnertz said. “In coordination with FEMA and our engineers, that is what we have determined to be safe, responsible, and cost-effective.”

The flooding this summer brought the local water level in the Iowa River up to 25 feet, according to the National Weather Service. The number is subject to further review but is currently considered to have reached major flood stage.

Major flood stage has only been reached in the Iowa River in two other years: 1993 and 2008.

The projects at Mayflower were the most troubling, Lehnertz said, because the flooding went through to Dubuque Street. This left crews with very little time to finish access points before students started arriving for move-in.

“This is something we’ve been through before,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said. “We have some experience with this, and both the move-in process and the construction process should go very well — that’s our goal.”

The Mayflower construction was halted for a week during move-in. It will continue throughout the fall, but full access to the residence hall has been restored.

Amy Franco, the Mayflower coordinator, said the only thing that was changed from previous move-in dates was allowing students to start moving in a few days early, regardless of their original move-in date.

“The access to both our north and south parking lots was in full capacity,” she said. “Now, with the removal of the flood protection, we have our dedicated bus lane and original bus stop back.”

Moore said the IMU flood mitigation could be delayed, but he does not consider it to be a issue.

Construction isn’t the main issue for students.

University marketing employee and UI junior Melanie Slattery said the noise at the IMU can be bothersome at times, but it is mostly not as bad as she had initially expected.

“Getting in to work hasn’t been a problem at all, and my coworkers haven’t really had trouble, either,” she said. “The noise can be really annoying, but headphones seem to tune it out.”

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