MUSCATINE, Iowa — A group of University of Iowa graduate students wowed city employees with their engineering proposals for Muscatine's development during a presentation on Thursday.
The students participated in the university’s Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities for which they created four projects, including a Welcome Center and a recreational trail near the Muscatine Agricultural Learning Center on Lucas Street, and a water detention plan and arterial roads for the northeast corridor (a space enclosed by Iowa Highway 38 and U.S. Highway 61 on the west and east and 180th Street to the north).
The Welcome Center was designed as a two-story building, at about 12,500 square feet, with an elevator, bathrooms and a storage room, as well as open space. Included in the plans was RV parking intended for visitors to the Muscatine Soccer Complex and a 7-1/2 story watchtower, from which people standing at the top would be able to see both the Soccer Complex and the Mississippi River. The estimated cost of the site as presented would be $3.2 million.
The trail project would have a trail connecting the Soccer Complex to Discovery Park and pass directly by the Welcome Center and the Ag Learning Center as well. The trail would also cross Lucas Street, which would require a special traffic light for safety. The trail would be paved and intended for both bikers and pedestrians, with plenty of signage, including wayfinding signs, trail maps and mile markers. The estimated cost was $2 million.
The proposal for water detention in the northeast corridor incorporated nine wet detention ponds, with a few of the ponds falling outside of the corridor area. The ponds would catch rain runoff and reroute it into Mad Creek, thereby decreasing the likelihood of flash flooding, and pollutants from the water caught would be removed largely by gravity once in the ponds. The cost for all nine ponds would be about $1.8 million.
The two arterial roads designed for the same place would create five intersections, spread among 180th Street and Iowa Highway 38 and U.S. Highway 61. They would also require four crossings of Mad Creek, which the students chose to handle with one bridge and three culverts. The students also discussed the placement of turn lanes as well as whether intersections should have two-way or three-way stops or a light. The total cost of building the roads, with their sewer and drainage requirements, would be about $8.6 million.
City Engineer Jon Lutz and Muscatine Director of Public Works Randy Hill congratulated the students on jobs well done and said that, while they're not planning to march into city council for a vote on these plans, having these plans done would make the city's job easier, should the proposals go beyond the planning stages.
After the students had completed their presentations, City Manager Gregg Mandsager told them, "What I appreciate most [about the plans] is that they're all realistic and actionable."