IOWA CITY — Like many of us, Mormon Trek Boulevard won’t go on a diet until after the holidays.
Iowa City’s project to take the four-lane street on Iowa City’s west side down to three lanes is on hold until the spring as the city waits for new traffic signals to be delivered, said Scott Sovers, senior civil engineer for the $1.6 million project.
“We initially thought we could get the lane conversion done this fall, but there is some signal modification that needs to happen,” Sovers said.
Rather than modifying the existing signals while new signal poles are on order, city officials decided to wait.
“They probably will arrive this winter, and we’ll be ready to install them in the spring,” Sovers said.
Often called a “road diet,” the project will change markings on Mormon Trek so that instead of four lanes — two in each direction — there will be one lane in each direction, plus a turn lane and bike lanes. The changes will extend from Melrose Avenue to Westside Drive.
Reducing lanes and adding a turn lane has been shown to make streets safer because you don’t have sudden left-hand turns blocking one lane of travel. The Iowa Department of Transportation gave Iowa City $1 million toward similar projects on Mormon Trek and First Avenue, on Iowa City’s east side.
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Those two roads had a combined 140 collisions in five years leading up to the projects, with four crashes involving cyclists and two with pedestrians, 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.
The Mormon Trek project started in the fall with road patching and the addition of a right-hand turn lane from northbound Mormon Trek to Benton Street. Next spring, crews also will finish curb ramps at Mormon Trek intersections and install new light poles on the portion of road between Melrose Avenue and the Iowa City limits with Coralville.
The First Avenue lane reduction already is complete.
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