Local Labor Helps Build the Cedar Rapids Flood Control System

Oct 16, 2019


On the banks of the Cedar River, permanent flood protection arises. Construction crews work on pump stations, rolling gates and walls that, once completed, will bring more peace of mind to the citizens of Cedar Rapids and a greater sense of protection for businesses and residents inside the flood plain.

The City of Cedar Rapids’ Flood Control System is designed to convey the same water volume as the flood of 2008, reducing flood risk through the heart of Cedar Rapids on both the west and east sides of the river.

The Economic Alliance has championed the completion of the Flood Control System using local labor to the extent possible. Studies and methods vary on precise impacts of locally reinvested dollars. But even the most conservative studies show locally owned businesses will recirculate more than three times as much money to the local economy than an out-of-area business will. On a project that will easily exceed a half billion dollars over the next decade, that multiplier effect adds up to a huge number quickly.

Economic Alliance member, WRH, Inc., is a general construction contracting company based in Amana, Iowa. WRH is currently constructing the 2,150-foot protective wall along the Cedar River in front of Quaker Oats. Back in 2003, WRH built a flood protection system and associated pump stations for Quaker Oats. Now 16 years later, they are a little over half way done with the new raised flood protection wall that is part of the City of Cedar Rapids’ Flood Control System. The project includes relocating a 36” drinking water conduit. The project is set to be complete in May 2021. WRH was also recently awarded a bid from the City of Cedar Rapids to add pumps to pump stations in Lot 44, near New Bohemia.

WRH, Inc. was founded as Wendler Engineering and Construction in 1973 by Glenn Wendler. During its first 20 years, the business primarily built small water treatment plants in communities across Eastern Iowa. From there, they expanded into small waste water treatment plants, commercial pre-engineered steel buildings, concrete secondary containment structures and industrial renovation projects. Following major flooding in 1998 and 2008, WRH added emergency flood repairs and flood mitigation projects to their business offerings.

WRH isn’t the only local business working on this flood wall project. Economic Alliance member Peterson Contractors, Inc, a company with a strong presence in Cedar Rapids, is installing the wall’s sheet pile – steel sheet that will cut off the flow of water through the soil at the base of the wall - and H-piles under the protected side of the wall. A total of three types of piles will work together to prevent the concrete wall from rolling or sliding under the pressure created by the raging river. Other local subcontractors on this flood wall project include:

Acme Electric of Cedar Rapids– electric and control work - Economic Alliance member!

D.A. Bunch of Cedar Rapids – architectural staining of the flood wall - Economic Alliance member!

Hansen Asphalt of Iowa City - parking lot paving

Mt. Vernon Construction of Mount Vernon - caulking

Fehr Graham of Cedar Rapids – site surveying - Economic Alliance Member!

Major material vendors include:

King’s Material of Cedar Rapids – concrete - Economic Alliance member!

Crawford Quarries of Cedar Rapids – aggregates, like sand, gravel or crushed stone

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