by Kirstin Hall, City of Dubuque Bee Branch Communications Specialist and the City of Dubuque Engineering Department
The Bee Branch Trail will have a new element to enjoy by 2021. A tunnel traveling under the Chicago Pacific Railroad at Garfield Street will connect the Upper Bee Branch Trail to the Lower Bee Branch Detention Basin Trail. The contract has been awarded, and construction will start this spring.
The Railroad Culverts Project is a critical phase of the larger Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project and, once completed, will increase the flood mitigation system’s capacity to protect the area from a 75-year rain event to a 500-year rain event. The railroad culverts project involves using micro-tunneling methods to install six 8-foot diameter culverts under the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) tracks along Garfield Ave. This will allow stormwater to drain more efficiently from the Upper Bee Branch Creek to the Lower Bee Branch Creek and 16th St. Detention Basin.
When the City sought public input on the design of the Bee Branch Creek improvements, residents voiced a desire for pedestrian passage under the railroad tracks. The proposed plans and specifications include the City assuming ownership of the two existing Bee Branch box culverts and utilizing them for both flood control and as a hike/bike path under the railroad tracks when creek levels permit. This will allow for the direct connection of the trail systems associated with the lower and upper sections of the Bee Branch Creek.
All the culverts will be installed and functioning by summer 2020, and the prep work for the bike tunnel will be completed during the culvert project. Then, the trail connection project will be bid separately in the spring of 2021, with paving taking approximately 3 months, so all will be completed by late summer 2021. The city is currently seeking grant funding to help cover the cost of the trail.
An 8-minute video can be seen at https://www.cityofdubuque.org/2579/Bee-Branch-Railroad-Culverts with drawings and timelines.