Bids for North Liberty interchange come back favorable

An SUV travels east on Forevergreen Road, which is gravel west of Covered Bridge Blvd, over Interstate 380 in North Liberty on Monday, April 3, 2017. An interchange is planned for Forevergreen in the near future. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
An SUV travels east on Forevergreen Road, which is gravel west of Covered Bridge Blvd, over Interstate 380 in North Liberty on Monday, April 3, 2017. An interchange is planned for Forevergreen in the near future. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

NORTH LIBERTY — The construction of an interchange at Forevergreen Road and Interstate 380 in North Liberty will cost the state about $4 million less than expected.

The Iowa Department of Transportation, which opened bids for the project last month, has approved a roughly $9.5 million contract for Iowa City’s Peterson Contractors Inc. to build a Forevergreen Road bridge over I-380 and the accompanying ramps to complete the North Liberty interchange.

Early estimates put the project at more than $13 million.

Cathy Cutler, transportation planner with the Iowa DOT’s District 6 office in Cedar Rapids, said having a project’s cost come in lower than expected isn’t necessarily rare but is definitely welcome.

“We’re always happy when that happens,” she said. “To us that indicates good competition.”

Work is expected to begin this fall on the diamond interchange project.

Work to widen and add turn lanes to Forevergreen Road will help handle extra traffic entering and exiting the interstate. North Liberty has agreed to take up some of the cost of that portion of the project.

Cutler said construction is expected to continue year-round, but the interchange likely won’t see traffic until 2019.

The interchange, which will be North Liberty’s second direct connection to the interstate, is a huge addition to a growing community, said Tracey Mulcahey, assistant city administrator.

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“It’s going to take pressure off an already taxed intersection, plus provide some new opportunities for developments,” Mulcahey said.

The Forevergreen Road interchange was fast-tracked by the state and city to prepare for a five-year, $300 million overhaul of the I-380/Interstate 80 Interchange — which is just to the south of North Liberty.

That project is expected to affect traffic considerably, with some lanes closed down for entire construction seasons, mostly in 2020 and 2021.

The North Liberty interchange, along with projects in Coralville and Tiffin, are expected to help manage detoured traffic.

When complete, the I-80/I-380 interchange’s cloverleaf-style ramps, which have been the site of many rollovers and incidents over the years, will be replaced by a sweeping, modern-style design called a turbine intersection.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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