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Work ramps up in I-80/I-380 interchange this year

A $50 federal grant should help shave a year off the project

Work continues on the I-80/I-380 Systems Interchange Project in Tiffin on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Work continues on the I-80/I-380 Systems Interchange Project in Tiffin on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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A $50 million federal grant could shave as much as a year or more off the construction of a new Interstate 80 and Interstate 380 interchange.

Cathy Cutler, transportation planner with the Iowa Department of Transportation District 6 office in Cedar Rapids, said the state still is determining how the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant, which was approved last spring, will affect the project. The $50 million should help condense the project’s overall timeline, she said.

“We’re still hammering out how to advance the project,” Cutler said. “I think we’re going to at least get a year off that.”

Cutler said any changes to the project, which began last year with some grading work, will happen in the project’s later years. This year still is expected to include more grading and early construction of some of the new interchange’s ramps.

The estimated $300 million project will convert the cloverleaf interchange where Highway 218, I-80 and I-380 meet into a sweeping, modern-style design called a turbine intersection. The project is tentatively scheduled through 2024.

Officials say some ramps could be closed to traffic for months, if not entire years. Major traffic delays are expected in 2020 and 2021.

To help alleviate traffic, the Iowa DOT and East Central Iowa Council of Governments in October launched 380 Express, a weekday bus service to carry commuters between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

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While work on the I-80/I-380 interchange is ramping up this year, the state’s Forevergreen Road/I-380 interchange project should be finished by this fall.

Nick Bergus, North Liberty communications director, said that new interchange should ease the burden on the existing Penn Street interchange, which he said is aging and undersized for current traffic loads.

“The Penn Street interchange is overcapacity and there’s no real chance to do improvements there until there is a second interchange,” he said. “While nothing is scheduled, that second interchange allows us to maybe start asking.”

In addition to the state’s interchange project, which will add the second I-380 connection to the growing community, work has been taking place to prepare local roads for added traffic, including paving on Kansas Avenue and the construction of a roundabout at Saint Andrews Drive and Kansas Avenue.

The state this year also is installing adaptive traffic signals in North Liberty and Coralville. The signals will be installed on Highway 965 from Highway 6 to Penn Avenue and have the ability to adjust green/red light duration times based on real-time traffic congestion.

State officials say the software is expected to be activated in February, with testing in March.

I-80/I-380 interchange project

The project’s tentative schedule includes:

• Fiscal Year 2019: Clearing and grubbing — removing trees, shrubs and rubbish — utility relocation, grading north of Highway 6 and west of I-380 and construction on the Forevergreen Road interchange.

• Fiscal Year 2020: Clearing and grubbing as needed, utility relocation, grading in the southwest and northeast quadrants, construction on eastbound to northbound and eastbound to southbound bridges and nighttime shoulder strengthening and widening work.

Forevergreen Road interchange is expected to be complete in the fall of 2019.

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• Fiscal Year 2021: Median reconstruction on I-80 and I-380, widening on I-380, grading and paving for various ramps, median bridge construction and bridge widening on I-80.

• Fiscal Year 2022: New lane and various new bridge and ramp construction on I-80 and I-380, and grading and paving for a number of ramps.

• Fiscal Year 2023: New lane and various new bridge and ramp construction on I-80 and I-380, and grading and paving for various ramps.

• Fiscal Year 2024: Final I-80 paving and bridge work and Park Road/Jasper Avenue Bridge construction over I-80.

• Fiscal Year 2025: Finish erosion control.

• Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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