3 traffic snarls to watch for as students return to school

Cedar Rapids and Iowa City schools contend with road construction

  • Photo

CEDAR RAPIDS — Corridor students returning from summer break this week could encounter traffic disruptions around several schools.

In Cedar Rapids, traffic to Roosevelt Middle School, Xavier High School, Kennedy High School, Pierce Elementary and Truman Elementary could experience minor complications. School starts today for them.

“Each project is going to be just a little different, but what we try to do is work directly adjacent to the school when school is out and set guidelines in the contract documents so when school starts up disruptions are limited,” said Doug Wilson, Cedar Rapids Paving for Progress Program manager.

In Iowa City, a major arterial street — First Avenue — is to be closed for the first two weeks of school affecting those attending east side locations.

Linn-Mar in Marion could also have traffic impacts. Here’s what to expect:

Kennedy and Pierce: Major road reconstruction of 42nd Street between Wenig Road NE and Interstate 380 continues as school opens today and could rankle travel for Kennedy and Pierce attendees.

The road has been dug up and is in process of being repaved. Paving is ahead of schedule between Wenig Road and Northwood Drive, city officials said.

Roads into the two schools are open, but some may experience detours depending on their route, particularly leaving school. Two-way travel is open only to local traffic between Wenig and Northwood, while Northwood to I-380 is westbound only. The Wenig and Northwood intersections are open for school access.

“In all honesty, it will be very much the same as it was in the spring, probably better,” said Jim Muench, Kennedy associate principal. “We don’t anticipate a lot of issues for students getting to school, but where the issues will come is students heading home if they are heading east toward the interstate.”

When the project is complete, likely in October, 42nd Street is to have new pavement, upgraded wastewater sewers and storm sewers, a new water main, better pedestrian accommodations and bike lanes.

Xavier: Seminole Valley Road NE is restricted to one lane around Cottage Hill Lane NE as part of road reconstruction. A temporary traffic signal alternates northbound and southbound traffic on the one lane. The 42nd Street improvements near Kennedy and Pierce could also cause disruptions.

Roosevelt: B Avenue NW is closed from Highland Drive NW to 10th Street NW, but the intersection of B and 13th Street NW has been reopened to allow school access.

Students and families can also access the school at the C Avenue NW entrance. The full B Avenue reconstruction from Highland to Eighth Street NW should wrap up this fall.

Truman: In mid-September, work a couple blocks south of Truman is expected to begin from West Post Road from Plainview Drive to Skyline Drive. Closures are to be staged such that the road is not fully closed all at once, and there are to be detours for school access. Work should finish up next spring or summer.

In Iowa City, South East, City High and Taft High School: A 14-day closure of First Avenue from Bradford Drive to Mall Drive began Saturday. Vehicle, pedestrian and bike traffic is restricted in this phase of the two-year railroad overpass construction over First Avenue.

Iowa City schools start on Wednesday.

Because of the railroad line, vehicles need to detour several miles out of the way to a crossing at Scott Boulevard or Summit Street. Pedestrians and bikes can use a closer tunnel under the tracks near the corner of Lower Muscatine Road and Kirkwood Avenue.

Jason Havel, an engineer for Iowa City, said weather-related delays made closing the road during summer break infeasible. After the 14-day closure, one lane in each direction is to open under the new bridge, signaling the end of the project is on the horizon.

“Our intent was to close the road during the summer or another period not quite so impactful to school,” he said. “But with utility delays it slid back the timeline. There wasn’t a way to avoid it. Hopefully now people can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Linn-Mar: Echo Hill Road is restricted to one lane of traffic east of Alburnett Road as part of a project to install utilities for a new subdivision. The project is expected to cause disruptions for Linn-Mar students who return to school Tuesday.

An end date hasn’t been identified for the project.

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.