Property owners get details on 80/380 interchange project

Logistics during construction a concern

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CORALVILLE — Replacing the Interstate 80/380 cloverleaf interchange makes sense, even it if will cost Steve Branin, 47, part of his land at 355th Street in rural Johnson County.

Traffic has been increasing and crashes are too frequent, he said.

“It absolutely makes sense,” he said Tuesday evening during a meeting at the Coralville Public Library.

Logistics is another story, like how he will get his daughter to school while the Jasper Avenue bridge over I-80 is being replaced to span additional travel lanes.

Branin was among more than 100 people who attended a public information meeting geared to property owners affected by the project just west of Coralville and Iowa City.

The cloverleaf will be replaced with a modern directional ramp design, and travel lanes will be expanded on I-80 to eight and I-380 to six in this area. The $270 million project will go over five years beginning in 2018.

The Iowa Department of Transportation held the meeting before beginning the buyout process. The agency will need 90 acres of residential, agricultural and commercial land, including the demolition of four homes.

Cathy Cutler, a DOT transportation planner, said negotiations for homes will begin in 2016. Purchases of other lands begins in 2017.

Marcia Charbon, 56, is slated to lose her home on Kansas Avenue, but she said she has known for some time. She supports the project.

“We’ve been woken up (by crashes) I don’t know how many times,” said Charbon, who has a family member in the advertising department at The Gazette. “If giving up our house would save a life, it is worth it.”

Others have raised questions about the necessity, citing the high cost and a decreased number of accidents after safety improvements.

Cutler said semis in particular can tip over on the tight loops, even going the speed limit. The accidents can been difficult to clean up and disruptive, she said.

Traffic impacts drew Ed Raber, economic development director in Washington. Highway 218, which connects with I-380, has become busier with the completion of the Avenue of the Saints, prompting question about whether shippers and travelers will avoid the corridor in favor of I-35 or Highway 61.

The DOT has said two lanes of through travel will be open in each direction for the project.

Brad Freidhof, of Johnson County Conservation, came to verify whether the intended path of a bike trail between Coralville and Tiffin would be preserved, and he said he was told it would.

Others wanted to know about plans for Forevergreen Road, which runs between Coralville and North Liberty.

Pending federal approval, the DOT will fast track a new interchange at Forevergreen to relieve congestion during reconstruction, and it would also serve as an emergency valve in the event of accidents.

This segment of the project raises questions about what local road improvements will be needed, such as on Forevergreen, which is part gravel, or Highway 965, which is two lanes in this area.

Local developers were also on hand. Forevergreen is an area targeted for development, and a new interchange could speed up interest.

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