State finds crack in city’s sidewalk project

An HR Green spokesman shows a slide of what the new sidewalks will look like on Avenue G by the end of the year if bids come in under the $1.5 million allowed for the project. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC


FORT MADISON – A $1.5 million project to redo the sidewalks along the Main Street District on Avenue G took a stumble recently when the state officials said the south side of the avenue didn’t qualify for the project.

The project is being made possible because of the city’s waste water treatment plant overhaul. The city is allowed to used 10% of the cost of the project capped at $1.5 million, for another sponsored project aimed at further waste and storm water treatment.

The plan as originally presented would have put what are called “permeable pavers” from the curbs on Avenue G in the Main Street District six feet into the sidewalks. The other six feet to the buildings on the street would be concrete. Storm water would be absorbed into underground tanks and as those tanks filled another pipe would let the water stream out into the underground where it would be absorbed and move through the natural filtering of the soil toward the river.

City Manager David Varley said state officials said the south side of the street didn’t qualify for the project.

“They’re saying the north side treats x percent of water, but the south side treats a much smaller amount, because it’s hooked up to lines that run to the river,” Varley said Friday,.

“So we came up with a plan B and have resubmitted it. We haven’t heard back yet, but our goal is make the changes needed to make this happen. We included a couple inlets on the south side to pick up a higher percent of storm water to get it to the tanks for the slow release, and get the whole project qualified.”

Varley said the city and HR Green Associates of Cedar Rapids, who’s helping the city get approval for the project, think the numbers are high enough now.

“Everyone else says we’re good to go, but if it’s still not enough to qualify the project, we’ll find a way around it. I think they’ll get back with us soon. Our plan is to get started and we should be able to get it completed this year.”

Varley said the $1.5 million is grant money and comes from the interest paid on the waste treatment plant. However, there may be a slight increase in the cost. Preliminary estimates on the original plan were $1.8 million.

“The cost might be slightly higher, because of the cost of concrete or curbing, but we’re trying to keep it under that amount,” he said.

The project comes as the city is set to begin redoing U.S. Hwy 61 or Avenue H, from 2nd to 6th streets this spring and summer. Incremental phases will take place in the following two years to eventually redo the entire thoroughfare through 20th Street. The city also has plans to redo Avenue G downtown and separate the storm and waste water lines under timelines from the Environmental Protection Agency.

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