CEDAR RAPIDS — The city has big plans for nearly 20 blocks of Third Avenue SE next year and wants to give residents a heads up on what will be downtown’s final two-way conversion project.
Crews next summer will begin converting Third Avenue SE — from First Street SW to 19th Street SE — from one-way travel to two-way.
City Traffic Engineer Matt Myers said the project marks the final two-way conversion for the Cedar Rapids downtown area.
The conversion projects, which the city began ramping up in 2015, have been successful in their goal to slow traffic and enhance safety, he said.
“I think one of the objectives that we met was we did get operating speed back down to what the posted speed is, particularly in the downtown area,” he said. “I think we are managing speed better and there is more of a calming effect on the two-way conversions.”
To learn more about the project, the public is invited to a Dec. 13 open house — held from noon to 1 p.m. at the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE. The meeting will be an open house format, with no formal presentation planned.
Since 2015, the city has completed a dozen two-way conversion projects:
• Second Avenue, from Sixth Street SW to First Street SE
• Third Avenue, from Sixth Street SW to Third Street SE
• Fourth Avenue SE, from Fifth Street SE to 19th Street SE
• Eighth Street SE, from Fourth Avenue SE to 12th Ave SE
• Seventh Street SE, from Fourth Avenue to 12th Avenue
• Second Avenue SE, from 13th Street and 19th Street
• Third Avenue SW, from Sixth Street SW to Fifth Avenue SW
• Fifth Avenue SE, from Fifth Street to 19th Street SE
• Second Avenue SE, from First Street SE to Eighth Street SE
• Fourth Avenue SE, from Third Street to Fifth Street
• Fifth Avenue SE, from Third Street to Fifth Street
• Oakland Road NE, from H Avenue to 32nd Street NE
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Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said officers also have noticed that traffic has slowed down on streets that have been converted to two-way traffic. He added it has taken a little while for some motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to change their behaviors, but police try to be understanding.
“Police officers recognize that there is a learning curve with conversions, especially for individuals who have been used to a previous traffic flow. If officers encounter a motorist that is confused about the direction of travel or bicycle lanes, for example, they focus on education rather than enforcement,” Buelow said in an email.
Next year’s Third Avenue SE project also includes the installation of railroad gates and crossing arms at Fourth Street, protected bike lanes from Third Street to Eighth Street and raised medians between Fifth Street and Eighth Street SE. In 2020, improvements will include resurfacing and pedestrian-friendly curb extensions called bump outs.
In addition to Third Avenue, Center Point Road between J Avenue and 29th Street also is slated for two-way conversion starting in 2020. In 2022, Center Point Road will be converted to two-way travel between H and J avenues.
Center Point Road is the last conversion project currently planned for the near future, but Myers said the city will keep other possible projects in consideration.
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