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Work on Mount Vernon Road among projects in C.R. metro this year
Local-option sales tax revenue fuels road work in Cedar Rapids, Marion
CEDAR RAPIDS — Motorists and pedestrians will see a safer, more walkable Mount Vernon Road SE as Cedar Rapids gears up for road construction work this year.
Work on the major east-west road is one of 42 street projects slated for repaving or reconstruction this year. The $30 million for this year’s work comes from the 1 percent local-option sales tax approved by voters.
The two-year, $7.8 million project on Mount Vernon Road will improve the road between 14th and 20th streets SE.
The work includes a new asphalt surface, intersection improvements at 15th Street and 19th Street SE, raised medians with concrete pavers, and a new sidewalk on the south side of Mount Vernon Road between 15th and 19th streets SE.
Project engineer Jennifer Selby said work this year will focus on 14th to 17th Street SE. Work on the 17th to 20th Street SE section will come in 2024. At least one lane of traffic will be open in each direction throughout construction.
Removal of utility poles and overhead lines began this month.
The city’s Mount Vernon Road Corridor Action Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2017, highlighted the need to improve the street’s aesthetics, cut down on visual clutter, enhance traffic safety and boost walkability. These priorities guided staff’s planning of the project.
Some residents expressed concerns about the removal of the historic wall along Oak Hill Cemetery as part of the project.
Cemetery board members and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission were consulted about the possibility of relocating a portion of the wall to make way for road work.
But the wall was in poor condition and had to be removed,, according to Doug Wilson, manager of the city’s Paving for Progress program.
The cemetery hired Kenway Excavating to remove the wall. The wall’s capstones were salvaged and stored on-site to be reused at a different location in the cemetery in the future, Selby said.
‘Big year’ for C.R. street projects
In the city’s ninth year of the 10-year Paving for Progress program, the city has budgeted nearly $30 million for street projects.
Overall, Wilson said, the city has invested $173 million on roads through the program and improved more than 93 miles of streets.
Of the 42 projects planned this year, Wilson said 26 are city projects being done with streets, sewer and operations staff. Sixteen are contractor projects.
“We’ve got a big year in front of us,” Wilson said.
Cedar Rapids voters in 2021 approved extending the local-option sales tax for street work for another 10 years, through 2034.
Wilson said the city continues to collect data every two years on street conditions and is drafting a plan for the next 10 years. Plans are adjusted every two years based on street data and funding.
“In the 10 years prior to having a local-option sales tax, we sold about $55 million worth of bonds to support street work, among other funding sources,” Wilson said. “With the Paving for Progress funding, we've … more than tripled the amount that we'd spent in the 10 years prior to having Paving for Progress.”
Another multiyear project underway will improve First Avenue West from First Street to Sixth Street NW and connect Sixth Street to Ellis Boulevard NW. This work is intended to help traffic flow, reduce crashes and add a connection between the Time Check neighborhood and downtown.
The $6.4 million project involves pavement replacement on Sixth Street and Ellis Boulevard; a new street between those two roads; roundabout construction at E and F avenues; replacement of a traffic signal at Sixth Street NW and First Avenue West; medians on First Avenue West; and improvements to the southbound Interstate 380 exit ramp and L Street SW.
The roundabouts are complete, so Wilson said crews will mostly be working from E Avenue NW to First Avenue West and making improvements to First Avenue to wrap up the project this year.
On Center Point Road NE, the city will continue to reconstruct the street and convert it from a one-way to two-way. Work is wrapping up from Coe Road to Lincoln Avenue and soon will begin on the segment from Lincoln to J Avenue NE.
On 32nd Street NE, pavement will be replaced from Carlisle Street to Oakland Road NE, affecting Oakland Road Hy-Vee customers. One lane of traffic will be open in each direction at all times, though the Oakland Road and 32nd Street NE intersection will have to close toward the end of the project.
Work that began last year on Oakland Road from Center Street to Regent Street NE will wrap up this year.
Other street projects this year include:
- 26th Street SE from Bever Avenue to Meadowbrook Drive SE.
- 66th Avenue SW from Locust Road to Sixth Street SW.
- Eighth Avenue SW from 15th Street to Rockford Road SW.
- Beverly Road SW from Highway 151 to Concrete Pavement near Edgewood Road.
- East Post Road SE from north of Bever Avenue to south of Indian Creek bridge.
- Fair Oaks NW-18th Street from F Avenue to Seminole Avenue, Seminole Avenue from 18th Street to the dead end, Cheyenne Road from Seminole Avenue to Sioux Drive, and Sioux Drive from Cheyenne Road to Yuma Drive
- Hampden Drive NE from Devonshire Drive to Crandall Drive NE.
- Ingleside Drive SW from Sixth Street SW to railroad pavement reconstruction.
- L Street SW from Wilson Avenue to 27th Avenue SW.
- Ushers Ferry Road NE from 42nd Street to Oak Creek Drive NE.
Marion street projects
In neighboring Marion, Assistant City Engineer Jacob Hahn said the city plans to spent $4.7 million on eight road and infrastructure projects this year.
Crews are reconstructing Third Avenue and will begin the second and final phase of the project this summer, near Francis Marion Intermediate School. The first phase added a new road, water main and storm and sanitary sewers.
This year’s phase includes reconstructing Third Avenue from 22nd to 26th streets and water main improvements along 22nd Street from Third to Fifth avenues.
Hahn said the streets will be open while crews work on utilities but eventually will have to be closed for reconstruction.
A project on 10th Avenue will rehabilitate the eastbound lanes of 10th Avenue (Highway 151) from 35th Street to Highway 13. This project is in the design phase, with work slated to begin later this summer.
Two pavement patching projects also are planned.
Crews will rehabilitate part of 29th Avenue from approximately Northview to Highland drives and a segment of Eighth Avenue from 13th to 22nd streets. Work includes concrete pavement patching and diamond grinding of the pavement surface.
“It will be another busy year,” Hahn said. “(We’re) looking forward to getting started to make the road improvements that are necessary.”
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