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$20.5 million grant may hasten start of I-80 interchange overhaul in Coralville

Project near Iowa River Landing initially set for 2024

The Interstate 80 interchange at First Avenue in Coralville. (Gazette file photo)
The Interstate 80 interchange at First Avenue in Coralville. (Gazette file photo)

CORALVILLE — Another big Interstate 80 interchange project — this one near the busy Iowa River Landing — took a leap forward Tuesday with the award of a $20.5 million federal grant.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development” program means that Coralville now has fully funded the proposed overhaul of the First Avenue/I-80 interchange. The grant covers half the $41 million cost.

“The city of Coralville would have no additional cost for the project beyond what we have currently spent on our half of the design and environmental work with the Iowa DOT,” said Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth.

Hayworth said the Iowa Department of Transportation has roughly $21 million in its five-year road plan set aside for the project.

The overhaul would replace the existing interchange with a diverging diamond design — creating signal-controlled crossover lanes for those taking First Avenue to the interstate.

Coralville City Engineer Dan Holderness previously told The Gazette the design would eliminate left turns across opposing lanes.

The interchange — near hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Iowa River Landing — sees more than 80,000 motorists each day.

Coralville officials said safety and congestion issues on the intersection now are tied to the large number of left turns.

The project had previously been scheduled for 2024, but may have to begin sooner.

“We will have to work with the Iowa DOT on the timing because the BUILD grant requires the project to be done quicker,” Hayworth said.

Just a few miles to the west, work is progressing on the giant Interstate 380/I-80 interchange remake. That estimated seven-year project still has about four years to go — estimated to be complete in 2024, the same year as the First Avenue/I-80 interchange overhaul initially was expected to start.

The Coralville project has been in the works “for years” and is the last I-80 interchange in the metro area in need of upgrading, Hayworth said.

“I am very excited that this project is finally fully funded and we can work on completion of this badly needed project,” Hayworth said.

Hayworth praised the support of GOP U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, as well as Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, who announced the grant.

“With all of the new restaurants, hotels and retailers in the area, this new interchange design will help traffic move more smoothly and safely and improve the quality of life,” Loebsack said in a statement.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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