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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: