Government

Iowa City plans major upgrades to American Legion Road to prepare for growth

Public meeting set to talk about plans for sidewalks, bike paths and roundabout

The stretch of American Legion Road that Iowa City plans to upgrade, including adding sidewalks, bike paths, drainage an
The stretch of American Legion Road that Iowa City plans to upgrade, including adding sidewalks, bike paths, drainage and perhaps a roundabout. (Google Maps)
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IOWA CITY — With growth planned on Iowa City’s east side, the city is planning a substantial overhaul of American Legion Road.

“We want to get out ahead of future growth of that area,” said Scott Sovers, senior civil engineer with Iowa City. “We feel like we’d like to get that street in. That is a projected growth area for us.”

Muscatine Avenue — a major east/west thoroughfare on the east side of Iowa City — becomes American Legion Road after it crosses Scott Boulevard. The city plans to completely rebuild the street — currently an asphalt road with no sidewalks or ditches on either side — between Scott Boulevard and Taft Avenue, Sovers said.

“We’ll remove the existing pavement that’s out there,” he said. “We’ll install storm sewer for the stormwater drainage piece of it and put the roadway on top.”

Other features of the rebuilt road will include dedicated bike lanes in both directions and a 10-foot sidewalk on the north side of the roadway that can be used for foot traffic or cyclists not comfortable with using the bike path.

At Barrington Road, the city will construct a pedestrian underpass that will allow students or other visitors to the nearby Hoover Elementary School to safely cross American Legion Road.

With the city anticipating more traffic on the rebuilt American Legion Road in conjunction with the expected growth, Sovers said the intersection with Scott Boulevard also will be reconfigured.

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Plans call for putting a roundabout in the intersection where there currently is a four-way stop, Sovers said.

“We looked at options between a traffic signal and a roundabout,” he said. “From a safety perspective, a roundabout is a much safer type of intersection than a traditional traffic signalized intersection. It seemed to be a good fit for that corridor.”

If the roundabout goes forward, it will be the third in the city. There are two roundabouts on Sycamore Street south of Highway 6.

The cost of the project is anticipated to be $9 million. Sovers said approximately $3.6 million will come from a state Surface Transportation Block Grant distributed by the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County. The remainder will come from general funds.

The timeline for the project is contingent on the city’s ability to complete right of way acquisitions for the project. Sovers said at this point, the earliest the project will go to bid is late spring. However, Sovers said, the city is willing to push the project back a year rather than go to bid in late 2020.

“The later you bid projects in the year, the higher the bid pricing tends to be,” he said. “We need to get this done in the next couple of years, (but) it is something we’re maybe willing to push back to make sure we get reasonable big pricing on the project.”

An informational meeting on the project is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Thursday in Hoover Elementary School’s Second Floor Commons, 1355 Barrington Road. A formal presentation of the project will take place at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting will feature exhibits related to the project.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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