CEDAR RAPIDS — Round 2 is set to begin for a major construction project on Interstate 380 in Cedar Rapids.
Drivers who recall last year’s bridge deck overlay project on northbound lanes of I-380 over 15th and 16th avenues SW can expect a similar sight this summer — only on the southbound lanes. Similar to last year, the Iowa Department of Transportation plans to maintain three lanes of traffic in both directions. Northbound lanes will be shifted to the east, and one southbound lane will be split off across the median to bypass the bridge on an existing northbound lane.
The shuffling of lanes maintains traffic flow and leaves only two lanes open on the bridge, creating space for the overlay work.
Such a practice was unprecedented when used last summer on the northbound lanes.
“Last year, this project was the first one done in the state of Iowa,” said John Vu, an engineer for the Iowa Department of Transportation based in Cedar Rapids. “It went extremely well. Everybody was happy with it.”
The project will not close any lanes on the interstate, but some ramps will be affected.
As soon as April 6, northbound lanes will be shifted. That will mean closing the Wilson Avenue on-ramp to northbound I-380. Traffic will be detoured to 33rd Avenue to enter the interstate. The ramp is expected to be closed until September, according to an Iowa DOT news release.
In addition, the Diagonal Drive/L Street on-ramp onto southbound I-380 will be closed at 8 a.m. April 9 to make room for line work on southbound lanes.
All work on the project is expected to be completed by September.
Vu said the project start date — originally planned for Friday evening — has been pushed to April 6 because of cold and wet conditions.
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Grimes contractor Cramer and Associations will complete the approximately $1.4 million project. While structurally sound, the bridge’s deck is in need of a new overlay, Vu said.
Vu said the project is complicated, but the heavy traffic volume of I-380 — the interstate sees more than 70,000 vehicles per day in Cedar Rapids, according to the Iowa DOT — made closing traffic lanes impossible.
“We cannot handle traffic with only two lanes,” he said.
However, last year’s project was such a success that Vu said he anticipates seeing similar projects around the state.
“For almost anything that we do on I-380 like this, you’ll see the same concept,” he said.
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