Clear Creek Project nears completion

Workers continue their work on Valley Street in Lansing as part of the Clear Creek water line project nearing completion. The project is intended to fix issues with freezing water lines and other water issues for residents in the area and was partially funded by a Community Development Block Grant. Submitted photo.

by B.J. Tomlinson

Under the watchful eye of a University of Iowa archaeologist and after months of delay, the Clear Creek Project is nearing completion. Residents on South Front and Valley Streets in Lansing have endured frozen water lines for several years, and completion of this project hopes to bring an end to those troubles.

Donna Troendle, who lives on South Main Street, said she has had frozen water pipes for the last three or four winters and has had to stay with family and friends until the pipes thaw. “The water has been rusty. We have tried running the water longer, but that hasn’t helped. I have to buy bottled water to drink and to cook with,” Troendle said. She is hopeful that the new pipes will correct the problem, but said that no one has told her what to expect.

Heath Draeger, People Service representative for the City of Lansing, said that in 2014 the water main by the Clear Creek bridge on South Front Street froze and buckled and the force sewer main and gravity sewer main have also frozen multiple times. The pipes are now being replaced on South Front Street along with the replacement of a four-inch water main on Valley Street which has “choked” the flow of water in the system. Initially, the City planned to fix the water main alongside the bridge, but later amended that plan, choosing instead to bore under the creek and place both the water and wastewater mains there to avoid any future freezing issues.

WHKS Engineering and Skyline Construction from Decorah had originally estimated  that the project would be completed in October of 2015 but it had to be postponed until this spring because the funds were tied up due to an unrelated lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at the Federal level. The project was further delayed because of difficulty finding an available archaeologist.

The $420,000 project was made possible by a  Community Development Block Grant (CGBG), which will pay approximately half the total cost. Diana Johnson from Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission said that the CGBG application required an environmental study which included securing the services of an archaeologist because of the potential for Native American artifacts being found at the digging site. University of Iowa archaeologist Kevin Verhulst was on site during the digging in early May, but no artifacts were discovered.

Lansing Mayor Mike Brennan said that the wastewater main “...will be adjusted so that the City and Refshauge trailer park will be able to rework their lateral lines and resolve constant issues with freezing lines.”  Brennan said the City will not need to adjust any water or wastewater rates for this project because they were previously adjusted as part of the 2014 CDBG grant application process.