CEDAR RAPIDS — A major construction project is underway that’s likely to cramp travel this summer on one of the busiest stretches of road in Eastern Iowa — Interstate 380 in Cedar Rapids.
The activity is for a pavement overlay of the northbound bridge deck over 15th and 16th avenues SW. Both northbound and southbound travel will be affected.
“Overall, (the bridge) still is acceptable,” said John Vu, an engineer for the Iowa Department of Transportation based in Cedar Rapids. “Nevertheless, before it gets worse, we would need to plan ahead, especially with the high volume of traffic on I-380 in Cedar Rapids. Hence, the work should be done.”
Motorists cruising on I-380 will notice the early stages occurring in the center median and orange cones blocking the inside southbound lane just south of downtown. More significant impacts, including lane shifts, can be expected, depending on the weather, in June.
Jaspers Construction Services of Newton is completing the $1.5 million project. Work began May 8 and is expected to be completed in October.
This section of I-380 sees about 73,600 vehicle per day, according to the Iowa DOT. It is a popular thoroughfare for the workforce heading back and forth between Linn and Johnson counties.
I-380 has three lanes of travel in each direction through Cedar Rapids, and the same number of lanes will be maintained during the project, Vu said. However, the lanes will be shuffled so only two lanes are on the bridge deck during construction, Vu said.
In order to accommodate this, the southbound lanes will be squeezed to the west or outside portion of the road surface.
“This will provide enough room to create one more lane on the inside/left,” Vu said.
A temporary median crossing from the northbound to southbound side of I-380 — and a second from the southbound back to the northbound — are under construction. The crossing will allow one of the northbound lanes to bypass the bridge by using a temporary fourth lane created with the extra room along the east or inside portion of the southbound roadway.
A temporary barrier rail will be installed to protect traffic heading in opposite directions, Vu said. Truck traffic will be restricted from using the bypass lane.
The speed limit is 60 mph in this area.
The new lane will be open once the median crossings are complete, Vu said, but noted he didn’t have a firm timeline for when that will occur.
Work on the northbound bridge will be completed one half at a time, with travel lanes shifting from one side of the bridge to the other as work progresses.
“With the traffic volume on I-380, with only two lanes available, there will be delays,” Vu said.
Iowa DOT plans a similar effort on the southbound bridge deck in 2018.
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