A groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of construction for the $117 million Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Flood Risk Management Project. The event, which took place Oct. 8, along the banks of the Cedar River at the site of the soon-to-be-built 16th Avenue Southeast floodgate, featured remarks from city leaders, congressional representatives and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, 54th Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"I would call this a model project, not because of the concrete and steel but because of how everyone worked together and the unbelievable partnerships and relationships that were built during the process," said Semonite.

For more than 10 years, the city of Cedar Rapids has been working with the Rock Island District to assess flood risk within the city and develop a plan for protection.

In 2008, the Cedar Rapids community was devastated by record flooding which covered more than 10 square miles and caused an estimated $2.4 billion in damages to the community. Two years later, a design agreement was signed authorizing the Corps to begin engineering and design on a flood risk management project along the Cedar River in the Cedar Rapids area.

In 2014, the flood risk management project was authorized for construction in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014 but funding was not made available for construction until August 2018 when Congress approved a supplemental construction allocation of $117,480,000 for the project. The appropriation of funds provided the push needed to get the project back on track and get the first contract awarded for construction.

"This groundbreaking carries special significance, as it represents a commitment of what's to come - a commitment we are proud to share," said Cedar Rapids Mayor, Brad Hart.

The 16th Avenue Southeast floodgate is the first of several flood risk management elements being built by the Corps on the east side of the river. The gate will be more than four feet thick, 14 feet high and 67 feet long and will provide rapid closure of the 16th Ave. Southeast roadway during high water and help to prevent flooding in the downtown Cedar Rapids area.