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Water main blowout on Fenno Road wrecks road

Water main blowout on Fenno Road wrecks road

What follows is an update mailed on Friday to all affected residents of Monday’s water main break under Fenno Road which provided an overview of the situation and outlined what the City is doing to address the situation.


On Monday, around 5pm, a water main ruptured under Fenno Road and eroded much of the substrate underlying the eastern lane of the roadway running up the hill. In some spots, the asphalt overlayment collapsed, creating a couple of sinkholes in the road.

The force of the water spilling from the main also washed tons of mud and debris into Valley Drive and into the Exide Battery plant to the south.

What We’ve Done So Far

After conducting some borings through the street, the City’s engineering firm (MSA Professional Services) advised us that in some spots there was as much as 36 inches of open space between the asphalt and the underlying foundation for the roadway. It’s clear to us that this makes the road very dangerous and while we are awaiting information about the western lane of the street, we’re asking residents to limit driving up and down Fenno Hill as much as possible.

We are currently working with Iowa-American Water Company to determine the best solution for repairing the damage to Fenno Road. The water company is responsible for the road repairs, but we are working with them and our city engineer to determine the best way to go about making them.

Our chief concern is that rushing to make street repairs right now could be problematic given the cold temperatures at night and the likelihood that concrete and asphalt poured at this time of year is not likely to set up correctly. In addition, the rehabilitation of Fenno Road (to address water drainage, pooling and freezing issues) has been on the Council’s priority list for a while and it doesn’t seem to make sense to replace the road now just to re-rehabilitate it at some point in the near future.

After conferring with our city administrator, Kent Royster, and our city engineer, it seems to me that if we took a little time over the winter to draw up the plans for the improvements we thought were needed on Fenno Road, we could repair the road and improve it simultaneously in the spring – saving the taxpayers money in the process.

This still creates a significant issue that we need to address though: how will the residents on Fenno Hill get to and from their homes if Fenno Road is in such poor (and potentially dangerous) condition? We’re currently considering two options:

Option 1:

We could work with the City of Bettendorf to put in a 4-way stop sign at Valley Drive and Fenno Road and then ask traffic going up and down Fenno to alternate/take turns. There are some potential drawbacks here – most notably the possibility that the western lane of Fenno Road might not be entirely safe and that if the road is icy or slippery, it may be difficult for traffic to stop at the 4-way stop.

We should have information on the condition of the west lane on Monday and we’ll share that information with the community as soon as possible.

Option 2:

We could work with Scott Community College and Mike Lauritsen to extend Fenno Drive as a gravel road that would run through Mike’s property and then the College’s property to eventually meet up with the College’s drive at the top of the hill (at the existing roadway cut-in). I will be meeting with SCC officials on Monday morning to review the feasibility of this – but both Mike and SCC were amenable to helping us out.

If we created the extension, we could direct people entering the neighborhood to come in at the Valley Drive entrance and head up the hill on the western lane. For people leaving the neighborhood, they could head west on Fenno Drive and exit using the gravel road to the College drive.

In the event Fenno Road is unsafe, we could set up the gravel road to accommodate two­ way traffic or, alternating traffic.

No matter which strategy we use, our goal is to have it in place before the snow flies (which looks like it could be in about 10 days). We’ll be sure to let you know what the plan is as soon as we can.

Garbage Pick-Up

Obviously, with the road situation, we’ve had to make some changes to accommodate garbage and recycling pick-up (since the regular truck will not be able to make it up the hill).

For the foreseeable future, garbage and recycling pick-up on Fenno Hill will be on Wednesdays. Republic will serve these homes with a smaller vehicle that we think can navigate the narrower road.

A gallery of photographs taken on Friday can be found below:

Remember to keep your grass out of our gutters!

Remember to keep your grass out of our gutters!

Spring and summer is the heart of lawn-mowing season, so we’re in the thick of it now. But did you know that grass clippings and other yard waste left in the street can cause flooding and storm water drainage problems for Riverdale? That’s because grass clippings in the street ultimately end up in a storm drain. Once in the drain, they can build up and clog pipes and cause drain issues.

This sophisticated diagram spells out what you need to keep in mind when it comes to cutting your grass next to the street.

In Riverdale, we have free, curbside pick-up of yard waste from April through October (and, sometimes, into November), so there’s no reason for residents to leave their lawn clippings, leaves and other plant refuse in the street.

Also, did you know that grass clippings and other yard waste in the streets can cause high levels of nutrients in local creeks and streams which can result in algae problems? It’s better for you to leave your grass clippings on your yard to help restore nutrients back into the soil and increase the amount of organic materials in your soil.

Grass on the road can also be a hazard to motorists, especially motorcyclists and bicyclists. If a two-wheeled vehicle hits a patch of grass in the road, the unstable nature of the grass pile can result in the bike losing traction on the road and, thus, losing control. 

According to Justin Lovely, in this article on the GreenPal website

“Grass clippings in the roadway can be extremely hazardous to the rider and even deadly. Rider’s are taught about potential *gravel* on the road but far too often forget about the dangers of grass. In our area we often see this on the back country rural roads.” 

“Rider’s don’t think about it because the rider is often on pavement or other city roads where this is really not an issue. The moment the rider decides to go on the secondary roads, he or she needs to be thinking and looking out for grass.”

Solutions For Your Grass Problem

There are a number of things you can do to make sure you and your grass clippings are not the cause of Riverdale’s next great storm water management problem.

  • If your mower shoots grass clippings out of the side, make sure you mow a few passes with your mower blowing towards your yard and not into the street – do it first, before you get going on the rest of your yard.

  • If you bag your grass with your mower, make sure you transfer the grass into your disposal bags away from the curb and street.
  • If you mulch, you’re good. Mulch-mowing will not blog grass out the side which means you shouldn’t have to worry about grass blowing into the street.
Weekend weather wrecks havoc on Riverdale.

Weekend weather wrecks havoc on Riverdale.

Riverdale residents were drenched Friday night with nearly 4 inches of rain in a very short span of time, causing basements to fill with storm water, flash flooding over saturated lands and hillsides, and mounds of mud and debris at intersections along Hwy 67 throughout the City.

Here are my notes (Mike Bawden) from the 3 hours I spent checking out various spots in the City …

Fenno Road/Hwy 67

Water was standing in ditches, with trash and other debris obstructing many of the culverts that would allow water to pass under the highway and make its way toward the river. No word how businesses located south of State Street (Schebler, Arconic and others) fared or were handling the runoff. The neighborhood up and on top of Fenno Hill appeared no worse for wear although we didn’t have a chance to speak to any residents.

SCC Entrance (College Drive)

The entrance to Scott Community College was buried under nearly 8 inches of mud which seems to have come up from the storm water pipes located under the road. Mayor Mike Bawden worked with SCC Dean Matt Schmidt to get a crew from the college out with a skid loader to scoop the entrance out so cars and bicyclists using the MRT could pass.

Arconic Learning Center

There appears to have been a washout under the eastern entrance to the Arconic Learning Center, resulting in the driveway collapsing. The MRT running from the SCC entrance to Manor Drive had standing water on parts of it (and didn’t appear to be draining) but was otherwise passable.

Manor Drive/Circle Drive

Residents living on top of Riverdale Hill reported that their sump pumps were running throughout the night. Some escaped with little to no damage while others had nearly a foot of water standing in their basements when they went down to check on things in the morning. Add to these problems the recent announcement by Republic that it was suspending bulky waste pick-up for the foreseeable future, and there are issues the City will have to deal with on Monday morning.

Woods Estates

Developer Seth Woods was on his tractor first thing in the morning, scraping mud out of the Gwyneth/State Street intersection and putting it back into the development. While the seeding and matting Woods Development had done on the north side of Gwyneth held firm, the bare land left by contractors installing gas and electric lines created an opportunity for the minor mud-slide Woods and his employees had to deal with.

To his credit, Woods was on the scene before the site was inspected by the City. He also had his employees work on parts of the MRT that were covered with mud and debris so bikers could continue to use the trail rather than ride in the street.

Brenny’s Motorcycle Clinic

The Brenny’s complex weathered the storm in fine fashion, although some erosion appears to have taken place under the drainage pipes leading from the new building. Mayor Mike Bawden stopped by to check on Mark Brenny and his crew who were still hard at work, doing business in spite of the recent challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and extreme weather.

Havens Acres

Inspection of Havens Acres showed this neighborhood showed it weathered the storm as well as expected – many of the homes in the area were already dealing with a river and creek at or near flood stage. Pumps were moving water to the street and storm water system. Much of the work that will be done on the roads in the neighborhood this summer will address the catch basins and drainage areas in addition to the street surface and driveway entrances. Some work (behind the curbs) will begin in the next month (weather permitting).

Belmont Road

Taking a quick look at the state of Fox Creek (which runs from by SCC and then under Belmont Road toward the river), there was a lot of debris and the water levels ran high overnight, but we didn’t see any major damage. Flow through this area has increased significantly due to parking lots and other development by PVCSD and SCC. I did not have a chance to speak to residents up by the bend in Belmont Road to see if there were any unique problems.

Photos from my “disaster tour” of Riverdale can be found below:

City Council agrees to sell street sweeper – will contract service

City Council agrees to sell street sweeper – will contract service

The Riverdale City Council approved the sale of this 2001 Sterling Johnson Street Sweeper

At its last regular meeting of 2019, the Riverdale City Council agreed to sell the City’s street sweeper. Although a formal agreement has not yet been signed between the Cities of Bettendorf and Riverdale to fix a price for quarterly sweeping and related services, the cost benefit study conducted by the City of Riverdale this past summer showed a considerable savings to the community through a partnership with Bettendorf.

“The City of Riverdale will not sell the sweeper until the City Council has had an opportunity to review, discuss and adopt an agreement with the City of Bettendorf for sweeping services,” explained Interim City Administrator, Lisa Kotter. “But the resolution passed on Tuesday allows the City’s staff to begin the process of putting our old sweeper on the market.”

A specific use of funds generated by the sale of the sweeper has not been determined. It’s likely the funds will just flow back into the City’s Capital Fund for use on one or more other projects on the City Council’s 2020 list of goals and objectives.

A copy of the resolution authorizing the sale of the equipment can be found here.

Cleaning up your yard? Don’t leave it in the street!

Cleaning up your yard? Don’t leave it in the street!

As homeowners all over Riverdale start to get ready for falling leaves and the final weekends in the yard before the snow flies, we’d like to offer a friendly reminder: please don’t leave your yard waste in the city’s streets this fall or you could be fined for violated Chapter 135.05 of the Riverdale City Code.

In past years, the City hasn’t said much to residents who rake their grass clippings, sticks and dead leaves into the street. But now that Riverdale doesn’t have its own street sweeper and is paying an outside contractor to clean our streets, we’re mindful of the additional expense created when too much debris is in the streets to give them a good cleaning. 

We don’t sweep the streets just to make them look pretty

Leaves and grass clippings on Circle Drive sometime last fall. Please make sure your yard clippings and leaves are either burned or bagged this season.

In fact, quarterly street sweeping and drain cleaning is part of the City’s obligation to retain its storm water management certification, required for metropolitan cities of all sizes – including Riverdale. By keeping our streets and gutters free of debris, stormwater (like rain or melted snow) has a place to go and won’t pool up and freeze at night. That can save the City loads of money down the road by reducing maintenance costs and reducing risks and damage from pooling water.

This fall, City personnel will be checking our streets regularly to make sure yard waste is being handled correctly. Residents who don’t seem to have a handle on their wayward leaves and grass clippings will get a reminder notice in the mail, first. Continued failings/code violations will result in fines.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comment area, below.

City looks to Bettendorf for street sweeping services

City looks to Bettendorf for street sweeping services

The City of Riverdale’s City Council authorized the City’s Administrator to work out terms for an agreement with the City of Bettendorf for street sweeping services.

Iowa’s urban cities are required to sweep their streets and clean their storm intakes drains/culverts at least four times a year. The sweeper currently owned by the city is past its “useful life” and requires $5,000 – $6,000 in repairs. After conducting a cost/benefit study this summer, it was determined the best course of action would be to look for an alternative to owning and operating our own piece of equipment.

In initial conversations with various service providers, it was determined that if the City of Riverdale should pursue a long-term service contract with Bettendorf who could meet both the quality of service standard required (since they have to meet the same standards for their city) and provide those services on a cost-effective basis.

The current plan is to wrap up negotiations with the City of Bettendorf to have their street sweeping crew provide those services to Riverdale on a quarterly basis. 


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