Phase V Overview

Phase V is the first flood mitigation phase of the Downtown Burlington Flood Project focusing on the area between the Port and the Auditorium.  Construction of Phase V is scheduled to start immediately following the 2017 Steamboat Days event and finish before the spring of 2018.  The floodwall being built in Phase V will tie into the Highway 34 off-ramp and run down to the Port, past the Auditorium, and up Market Street as shown below.  The amount of floodwall built in 2017 will depend on the price when bids come in- approximately $2.5 million is budgeted for floodwalls in 2017.  It is likely that the wall along Market Street will need to be built in phase VI.


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The view of the Mississippi River is one of the defining features of downtown Burlington.  With this in mind, a combination of permanent and removable floodwalls is planned for the riverfront.  Permanent walls will be between three and four feet high with the possibility of placing removable panels on top of the permanent walls when required for larger floods.  The diagram below shows what this combination of permanent and removable walls could look like.  At the boat ramps and railroad crossings the entirety of the floodwall would be built with removable panels to leave these areas open for use during non-flood times.

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In addition to the construction of floodwalls Phase V also includes flood-proofing the Market Street lift station, constructing a green alley demonstration project, and restoration of the riverfront.

Next to the floodwall, restoration of the riverfront will have the largest impact on how the area will look and be used.  Restoration of the riverfront involves reconstruction of the area adjacent to the riverfront after the floodwalls are built.  In order to build the floodwalls, this area will need to be excavated.  It is possible that the riverfront area could be rebuilt to look exactly the same, and it is also possible for changes to be made at this time. This represents an opportunity to improve on the riverfront and make it a more attractive and engaging area, which has consistently been a goal of Burlington residents for years.  During the Imagine Campaign community visioning process, increasing the use of the riverfront was identified as one of the top goals.  Additionally, developing recreational opportunities along the riverfront is identified as a key strategy in the 2013 City of Burlington Comprehensive Plan.

The riverfront is used by many different groups, and in order to make sure all of these groups’ views are represented and incorporated into a plan for the riverfront, the consultants hired by the City (Veenstra & Kimm and Smithroup JJR) have conducted a number of public meetings, stakeholder group meetings, and steering committee meetings over the course of a year and a half.  Different groups representing a wide cross-section of Burlington residents were consulted, including Steamboat Days.

Through public meetings, stakeholder group meetings, and steering committee meetings, the plan for the riverfront area has gone through a number of refinements.  Extra care was taken to make sure the riverfront would be usable for daily activity as well as large events such as Steamboat Days.  The current version of the plan can be seen below.

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A number of features are present in this picture: a riverfront trail, a splash play area, a floating boat dock, shade structures (including a permanent shade structure over the port stage), a deck off the back of the port building, amphitheater style seating by the East side of the auditorium, grassy areas with seat walls, river overlooks, and patterned pavement.  A “fly over” video of what this could look like is available on the Community Development Department Flood Project web page.  The total cost for all of these features, including improving the North and South boat ramps and adding a fish cleaning station, could be up to $8 million.

 As part of the Flood Mitigation Grant, the City of Burlington has $850,000 budgeted for riverfront restoration.  There are a number of grants available to improve the riverfront, but it is not possible to do this entire project in one year.  This means that the riverfront plan will need to be broken into smaller pieces and done as grant funding becomes available.

 Currently, with the $850,000 available, work done on the riverfront in the summer of 2017 (excluding the floodwalls) would encompass the area shown below.

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A number of features are present in this picture: a riverfront trail, a splash play area, a floating boat dock, shade structures (including a permanent shade structure over the port stage), a deck off the back of the port building, amphitheater style seating by the East side of the auditorium, grassy areas with seat walls, river overlooks, and patterned pavement.  A “fly over” video of what this could look like is available on the Community Development Department Flood Project web page.  The total cost for all of these features, including improving the North and South boat ramps and adding a fish cleaning station, could be up to $8 million.

 As part of the Flood Mitigation Grant, the City of Burlington has $850,000 budgeted for riverfront restoration.  There are a number of grants available to improve the riverfront, but it is not possible to do this entire project in one year.  This means that the riverfront plan will need to be broken into smaller pieces and done as grant funding becomes available.

 Currently, with the $850,000 available, work done on the riverfront in the summer of 2017 (excluding the floodwalls) would encompass the area shown below.