Iowa City Gateway – City Council Review & environmental assessment Review Status
November, 2013 Update
At the request of the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) document has been submitted for review. The Iowa DOT will review the document and then submit it to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for final review and approval. Federal approval of the FONSI represents the final step in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.
At this time, Iowa City has not been made aware of a final resolution to the Section 106 process requests made by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) to the FHWA.
City Council Review
The Iowa City Council is in the process of reviewing the project to establish parameters for design. At a work session on September 17, 2013 the Council heard a presentation from city staff and the design consultant. An overview of the Environmental Assessment/NEPA process and the Preferred Alternative was given before moving on to discuss the Design Decisions that will need to be made by the City Council prior to final design and engineering. These decisions include: the level of protection for Dubuque Street, backwater reduction goals and structural type of the bridge.
A range of options was provided and, based on preliminary design information, cost estimates, roadway elevations and water surface elevations were provided. The “Do Nothing” option was addressed as well, which includes many needed improvements to the aging infrastructure in the corridor.
The City Council continued to review the Iowa City Gateway project at their October 1, 2013 work session. That same night, there was an agenda item for public input on the project at the 7 p.m. formal Council meeting. Staff outlined recommendations in a presentation and then opened the floor for public comment. Additionally, staff made note of questions from the public and will follow up with discussion and responses in a future council information packet/session.
Environmental Assessment Review Status
The Federal Highway Administration has indicated that their process for responding to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation will not be complete prior to the October 1st City Council meeting. Formal council action regarding design parameters will not occur until after the NEPA process is complete.
The Iowa City Gateway Environmental Assessment
The City of Iowa City has studied potential solutions to minimize flood impacts on Dubuque Street and Park Road, reduce backwater created by Park Road Bridge and make needed infrastructure improvements in the corridor.
Recommendations for those improvements, as well as potential adverse and beneficial impacts to the community, buildings and the natural environment are detailed in the Iowa City Gateway Environmental Assessment (EA).
What is the Iowa City Gateway Project?
The Iowa City Gateway project will design and build solutions for the flooding that affects the Dubuque Street/Park Road Bridge Corridor. The goal is to ensure the Dubuque Street and the Park Road Bridge can remain open even during a 500-year flood event.
As part of this project, the City of Iowa City has developed and evaluated various alternatives for improving Dubuque Street and replacing Park Road Bridge. Once the recommended alternative receives Federal approval, more detailed design and engineering plans will be developed, followed by construction of the new road and bridge.
Project News & Events
Spring 2013 – The official comment period on the Environmental Assessment was March 14 – April 15, 2013. Public comments received via letter, e-mail or verbally at the public hearing during that period have been included in the document which has been submitted for final, Federal review and approval.
As a part of that comment period, a public drop in center and a public hearing were held on April 4, 2013. At the meeting, the roughly 45 attendees had an opportunity to learn about the project process and provide input regarding the EA document, the preferred alternative, and corridor needs. The attendees could also ask questions of the design team and City staff, see a short presentation about the project and provide formal comments about the recommendations in the Environmental Assessment.
August 2012 *UPDATE* - Project documents are currently being reviewed by local, state and federal agencies. Once those reviews are complete the City of Iowa City will provide information on public review and comment opportunities, including the date, time and location of a public meeting.
December 8, 2011 – Draft Alternatives Available for Public Review – Because the community has shown so much interest in the project, Iowa City added an opportunity for the public you to see preliminary, draft versions of the alternatives being developed at a drop in center hosted on December 8, 2011.
March 3, 2011 – The first Iowa City Gateway public meeting was held from 4:30 to 7 p.m., Thursday, March 3, 2011, at the Parkview Church, 15 Foster Road, and is located just adjacent to the project study area in Iowa City. At the meeting, more than 150 attendees had an opportunity to learn about the project process, provide input regarding corridor needs, ask questions, sign up to receive project information, and see a short presentation about the project and its current status.
July 13, 2012 – The second Iowa City Gateway public meeting was held from 4:30 to 7 p.m., July 17, 2011. Along with an open house component, a formal presentation was made which was followed by a question and answer session. The meeting was held at the Parkview Church, 15 Foster Road, and is located just adjacent to the project study area in Iowa City. At the meeting, nearly 100 attendees had an opportunity to learn about the project process, provide input regarding corridor needs, ask questions, sign up to receive project information, and see a short presentation about the project and its current status.
Where Are We in the Project?
The Iowa City Gateway Project currently is nearing the end of Phase 1. In Phase 1, the City of Iowa City will complete a federally required environmental study. The study documents the National Environmental Policy Act decision-making process that federal regulations and standards require for the Iowa City Gateway Project to access federal funds. Within the process, the team has evaluated how various design alternatives may affect the Iowa River, its floodplain and nearby neighborhoods, properties and community resources.
Phase 1 is expected to be completed in mid 2013. (Required reviews extended the original schedule.) Phase 1 resulted in a recommended approach for improvements.
Following final, Federal approval, Phase 2 will produce detailed design and engineering of the Dubuque Street and Park Road Bridge improvements will begin. It is expected to take approximately 18 to 20 months.
Construction is anticipated to begin at the conclusion of Phase 2 and will take approximately two construction seasons to finish.
Partners for a Successful Iowa City Gateway
The Iowa City Gateway Project is a partnership led by the City of Iowa City in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and U.S. Economic Development Administration. Together, these agencies and the City’s engineering consultant form the study team that will be responsible for making the Iowa City Gateway Project a success.