I-JOBS provides millions to area communities

by Bekah Porter

CEDAR RAPIDS – Flooded counties received the most money from the state this past year, according to a recent report from Gov. Chet Culver’s office.

Johnson and Linn counties snagged the top two spots, respectively, in the list of counties who were awarded the most funding through the governor’s I-JOBS initiative.

The I-JOBS program, which is in its second year, has experienced both scrutiny and praise since its inception after the 2008 floods.

It was an $875 million state infrastructure modernization program designed to support or retain jobs, rebuild communities impacted by the 2008 floods and promote long-term economic growth. The program is in its second full year.

By the numbers:
According to the state’s recent report, the I-JOBS program has resulted in some impressive numbers, including:

1,688 – Number of projects created thus far in Iowa

$705.4 million – Amount the state has invested thus far toward flood-mitigation and infrastructure projects, with more than half dedicated solely to recovery and mitigation

$610.6 million – Amount of matching federal and local dollars that came as a result of the program

$1.32 billion – Total worth of I-JOBS projects that are either underway, committed or completed

7,079 – Jobs created or retained through the I-JOBS program this past June, excluding the number of indirect jobs

The five counties that received the most through the program were awarded more than 60 percent of the $705.3 million allocated thus far for immediate infrastructure repair and flood plain management improvements. Those counties were:

• Johnson – $154,668,799 for 34 projects
• Linn – $113,039,675 for 55 projects
• Polk – $101,549,786 for 73 projects
• Story – $40,355,070 for 23 projects
• Black Hawk – $27,983,896 for 33 projects

These counties suffered most during the 2008 floods.

Upcoming projects

Last week, the city of Cedar Rapids announced it was submitting seven applications for more than $12 million worth of funding to the I-JOBS II Disaster Prevention Grant Program. These projects include:

Amphitheater Phase I Levee. This will create a greenspace along the west bank of the Cedar River that will serve both as a public space and as a barrier to help with flood protection. Amount requested: $1.75 million

Cedar Rapids Fire Department Central Fire Station and West Side Fire Station. This will relocate the existing northeast fire station to the city’s west side while simultaneously constructing the new Central Fire Station. This project will increase the area of the city within 1.5 miles of a fire station by 12.5 percent. Amount requested: $6.6 million

Cedar River Greenway – West Side Infrastructure Removal. Includes removal of infrastructure from a future greenway along the Cedar River’s west side. This greenway will serve as part of the city’s flood management strategy, as well as providing parks and recreation. Amount requested: $420,000

Cedar River Storm Sewer Outlet Gate and Valve Installation. This will install gates, valves and appurtenance on storm sewer outlets at the Cedar River, which will prevent the river from backing up through the storm sewer and flooding neighborhoods that would not otherwise suffer damage when the river is at or near flood stage. Amount requested: $1.15 million

Cedar River Trail and Boat Ramp — City Portion of Replacement of the Collapsed CRANDIC Railroad Bridge. The CRANDIC Railroad bridge over the Cedar River collapsed during flooding, and the railroad created a plan to build a new bridge that will reduce upstream flooding. This plan had the tracks conflict with the railroad crossing of the Cedar River Trail, and the railroad required the city to relocate its trail crossing, for a cost of $450,000. This new trail underpass also may allow for a boat ramp for emergency access to the Cedar River, for an additional cost of $50,000. Amount requested: $450,000

Cottage Grove Parkway SE Flood Protection. This will include constructing 1,500 feet of an earthen or concrete levee, a new storm sewer and modifying existing sewer outlets and inlets. This project will protect 20 homes from flash flooding of the Indian Creek. Amount requested: $128,000

Public Works Building and Facility Expansion. This will purchase the flood-impacted properties neighboring the Public Works facility at the same time it is being reconstructed. The properties will be mitigated to reduce future flood damage and will be used by the city to expand disaster prevention capabilities. The project also includes constructing building that will, among other things, store flood equipment and house sand-bagging operations. Amount requested: $1.7 million. CBJ