Local Government

Two-way street conversion on Cedar Rapids' Fifth Avenue begins Wednesday

A sign informs drivers that 2nd Avenue SE changes from one-way to two-way just ahead in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Jun. 25, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
A sign informs drivers that 2nd Avenue SE changes from one-way to two-way just ahead in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Jun. 25, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — City officials are accelerating the conversion of Fifth Avenue SE, between Fifth Street and 19th Street SE, from one-way to two-way travel.

Work will begin on Wednesday. The project includes re-striping pavement markings, and new left turn lanes will be added at the Fifth Avenue SE and 10th Street SE intersection.

“When it’s finished, it will look similar to how Fourth Avenue in Wellington Heights looks — one travel lane in each direction, with on-street parking on both sides,” said Emily Muhlbach, spokeswoman for the public works department.

Other changes include converting the following intersections from four-way stops to two-way stops:

— Fifth Avenue at Sixth Street: stop signs removed on Fifth Avenue.

— Fifth Avenue at Seventh Street: stop signs removed on Seventh Street.

— Fifth Avenue at Eighth Street: stop signs removed on Eighth Street.

“These changes will promote smoother traffic flow for Fifth Avenue traffic leaving downtown, as well as truck traffic on Seventh Street and Eighth Street,” Muhlbach said.

The work should be finished by July 21, depending on the weather. Specific traffic impacts during the work include:

One-way to two-way conversions

Map by John McGlothlen / The Gazette

— On July 19, no parking will be in effect on the north side of Fifth Avenue.

— On July 20, no parking will be in effect on the south side of Fifth Avenue.

Also, intermittent closures are expected during the painting and drying. Crews will start at 19th Street SE and work toward Fifth Street SE.

As recently as late June, the Fifth Avenue project had been scheduled in the “2019 and beyond” time frame as part of a five-year effort to convert many of the city’s one-way streets to two-way, particularly downtown. The effort began in 2015.

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The purpose was to calm traffic, better accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, and to create a more friendly environment for shopping.

The accelerated schedule comes after City Council members pushed back at a June meeting upon hearing the city’s timeline for converting one-way streets to two-ways was going to take longer than what had been told to the public.

City officials clarified the projects aren’t delayed in starting, but rather they would take longer to complete than expected. In some cases this was due to a desire to coordinate with other work and in other cases because of complex design features.

Muhlbach said a few things allowed the city to move up the timeline on Fifth Avenue.

— The Fourth and Fifth Avenue conversions in the downtown core are starting this year from Third to Fifth Avenues.

— Fifth Avenue between Eighth and 12th Street already converted to two-way traffic as a result of roadwork on 10th Street to help with traffic flow during.

The Fifth Avenue conversion previously had been slated to occur in conjunction with a future Paving for Progress project. Pavement improvement for Fifth Avenue are still planned to be addressed when the Paving for Project occurs, likely not until 2019, Muhlbach said.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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