The University of Iowa

Sabula Municipal Dock Design and Engineering

Sabula dock design
Academic Year 
2021-2022
College/Department 
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Project Partner 
Led by 

As part of the Senior Design Capstone Course, Civil & Environmental Engineering students will evaluate and design a municipal dock along the Mississippi River for the City of Sabula, Iowa. 

The city of Sabula, Iowa, is an island town situated on the Mississippi River. In recent years, the city as invested in its historic downtown to increase revenue from tourism. As part of this effort, city officials sought assistance on a design to upgrade Sabula’s municipal boat landing and park in order to create a welcoming front door to the Mississippi River for tourists and local residents to enjoy.  

The current municipal boat landing faces an array of challenges that negatively impact the usability of the facility. The concrete surface of the boat ramp has degraded after years of use. The ramp also stops just two feet into the water, making it easy for trailers to get stuck in the muddy riverbed. The dock is also currently limited in size, reducing the efficiency of the site and increasing the time it takes boaters to put their boats in and out of the water. On land, the site features an outdated pavilion. The site also has limited parking options with no spaces for trailers to park. The lack of public restroom options also limits the current usability of the site for boaters.  

The engineering project team created designs and cost estimates to improve upon and add new amenities to the site to increase the overall usability of the site for recreational boaters. The project addresses four main areas of concern: the limitations of the current ramp and dock, the outdated pavilion with a lack of restroom facilities, the limited on-site parking options, and the lack of wayfinding resources.