Bee Branch Creek Restoration is a complex project that balances the functional requirements of stormwater conveyance and storage in an area prone to large flood events with the creation of a usable public open space. The project daylighted an existing storm sewer, removed a large portion of the existing city storm infrastructure, and created a linear corridor with an open channel for stormwater management and conveyance. The team developed a publicly vetted master plan that responded to the City’s needs and desires, allowing the corridor to transition from unprogrammed greenspace to a pedestrian district, reflecting the neighborhood shift from a commercial redevelopment zone to predominantly single-family residential lots. The plan also connected the corridor to city-wide and regional pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure systems as well as to the specific community amenities identified by residents.
One of the defining visions from the master plan is a series of integrated green infrastructure components to capture rainfall, mitigate the impacts of stormwater influx into the corridor and provide habitat for terrestrial and aquatic species. The physical manifestation of this vision was the implementation of a chain of highly visible and celebrated biofields, uniquely engineered depressions in the landscape that collect and infiltrate stormwater. Pre-vegetated mats composed of a solid matrix of native plant rootlets were utilized along sloped banks and in the biofields. Several unique plant mixes were formulated to highlight a diversity of native grasses and forbs specifically tailored to the unique location and water regime in which they were placed.
In conjunction with the floating wetland islands and the permeable alleys, the City of Dubuque has utilized the open space created by the development of the Bee Branch corridor to capture, treat and convey an incredible amount of water historically responsible for devastating flood events. Green infrastructure components on the project have become key elements in telling the story of the project and conveying an environmental education component to citizens and visitors alike.