IOWA CITY — The bulk of construction on Mormon Trek Boulevard on Iowa City’s west side should be done by mid-October — not soon enough for this weekend’s Iowa Hawkeyes football traffic, but in time for the second half of the season.
“Ideally, on projects like this, we like to get them out in the spring and summer so when football starts up, we’re done, said Scott Sovers, senior civil engineer for the $1.6 million project. In this case, “getting easements set us back a little.”
Crews are adding a right-hand turn lane from northbound Mormon Trek to Benton Street, which should be done in the next week, Sovers said. The city first had to get easements on the southeast corner of the intersection and take down trees in preparation for the new turn lane, he said.
Once that’s completed, workers will redraw lane markings on Mormon Trek to change the busy north-south thoroughfare from four lanes to three from Melrose Avenue to Westside Drive.
These “road diets” with a center lane for turns are designed to make streets safer, which is why the Iowa Department of Transportation gave Iowa City $500,000 toward lane reductions on Mormon Trek, Sovers said.
“This is a safety improvement,” he said.
Mormon Trek and First Avenue, a four-lane street on Iowa City’s east side also home to recent “road diets,” had a combined 140 collisions in the past five years, with four crashes involving cyclists and two with pedestrians — one of which was fatal, according to the city’s funding request to the Iowa DOT. There has been at least $2.2 million in property damage in these collisions, The Gazette reported in January.
A dedicated turn lane on Mormon Trek will reduce the likelihood a turning car will result in a rear-end collision, Sovers said. There also is increased visibility when drivers have to look across only three lanes instead of four.
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The bulk of the Mormon Trek project will be done by mid-October, Sover said, but city workers will come back in the spring to update traffic signals and curb cuts to meet handicapped-accessiblity standards.
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