Government

As Tower Terrace Road projects near, officials seek public input

One segment of Tower Terrace Road currently ends at an roundabout intersection with Albunett Road in Marion, shown on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
One segment of Tower Terrace Road currently ends at an roundabout intersection with Albunett Road in Marion, shown on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Before major headway is made on the more than $90 million overhaul of Tower Terrace Road, transportation officials want to revisit the project’s now 8-year-old management plan and gather public input.

Bill Micheel, Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization manager, said some work on the Tower Terrace Road Project has taken place in Marion, but members of the project’s advisory committee wish to give the public an update on the project’s scope and proposed schedule, while also gathering additional input on a few elements.

“It’s going to be a major thoroughfare through our metro region. With high traffic volumes in some areas and high pedestrian and cycling traffic, a lot of people are going to be using this, so we really want it to be a showpiece. We want it to look nice and function well,” Micheel said.

The Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization on Tuesday will host a public meeting from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the community center at Hiawatha City Hall, 101 Emmons St. The meeting will be an open-forum format, with identical presentations at 5:15 p.m. and 6 p.m.

To say the Tower Terrace Road project is long-awaited would be an understatement. Area officials first began planning the effort in the 1960s, with right-of-way reservations beginning as early as 1977.

The roughly 8-mile project would update existing portions of Tower Terrace Road and connect the roadway between Robins Road and Alburnett Road. When complete, the project will provide an east-to-west corridor from Interstate 380 in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha to Highway 13 in Marion.

Included in the project is the estimated $20 million construction of an I-380/Tower Terrace Road interchange, which is scheduled by the Iowa Department of Transportation to begin in fiscal year 2022.

Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, who is on the project’s advisory committee, said one of the biggest challenges with a project of Tower Terrace’s scope is that it spans multiple jurisdictions. All told, the project includes Hiawatha, Robins, Cedar Rapids, Marion, Linn County and the Iowa DOT.

But Oleson said those jurisdictions have been working well together on the project. In 2016, local entities pledged $5 million to the interchange project in a bid to secure assistance from the state. The project was added to the Iowa Transportation Improvement Plan the following year.

“Everybody has been working great together,” Oleson said.

Micheel said the committee hopes to gain feedback on the management plan to see if any updates are needed and gather input on elements like stormwater management and median and landscape treatments so the project doesn’t change between different jurisdictions.

Input also is being sought on how to manage any trail crossings on the new, wider roadway including the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

But while the project is moving in the right direction and local entities have individually put increased emphasis on the road project, residents likely won’t see a completed Tower Terrace Road for decades.

As an estimated $94 million project, Tower Terrace will be broken into multiple smaller projects that could span from 2019 through 2045, Micheel said.

Micheel said the schedule remains a moving target based on multiple factors, including MPO funding decisions and grant dollars.

“If we are successful in getting grant funding, that of course speeds up the process,” he said.

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

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