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Construction begins on $15M interchange project at Highway 330

MINGO – Expect to slow down when traveling down the one-mile stretch of Highway 330 between Mingo and Baxter, as construction for the diamond interchange at the deadly intersections of Highways 117 and F17 has begun.

Through the interchange project, Highway 65 North will be connected to Highways 117 and F17 with a bypass. Traffic will be able to cross Highway 330 by using an overpass.

Iowa Department of Transportation engineer Scott Dockstader said through this, the one-mile stretch of highway will be safer for motorists to travel and decrease the potential of deadly crashes in the area.

“The interchange project itself should bring both of those two intersections into one common interchange location,” he said. “We encourage people to drive safely through the construction zone during the next couple years and everybody will understand the great improvement the interchange will bring to improve safety when the project is completed.”

In January 2015, the Iowa Transportation Commission made the decision to move forward to build an interchange at the intersections of Highway US 330/65, Highway 117 and county highway F17. The project was expected to cost about $15 million during this time.

Dockstader said the project is on budget for the grading and bridge work. The project’s right of way costs are currently $720,000 over budget, according to IDOT’s Office of Right of Way.

IDOT officials said the department moved forward to construct the interchange in order to increase safety on the one-mile stretch of Highway 330. According to IDOT, the U.S. 65 and Iowa 117 intersection experienced 101 crashes and eight fatalities since 2003. The Highway F17 intersection had 34 crashes and four fatalities since 2003.

The most recent collision occurred at the Highway 117 intersection. It resulted in the death of one 12-year-old Marshalltown resident. He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Two others were critically injured in the incident.

“It was four-lane highway with a couple high volume, at-grade intersections. Whenever you have a four-lane highway with an at-grade, high volume road, there is a lot of friction and a lot of potential for accidents,” Dockstader said. “If somebody makes a mistake driving when trying to come across the main line with the high speeds, it is more of a severe accident oppose to a fender bender.”

According to IDOT’s website, the statewide intersection safety improvement candidate list for 2008 to 2012, found the Highway 330 intersection with U.S. 65 ranked as the second most dangerous rural high-speed expressway intersection in the state. The intersection with Jasper County Road F-17 was found to be the sixth most dangerous.

The IDOT engineer said travelers can expect the construction will have no substantial impact on travel restrictions while driving through the area.

“I think most of the time, our construction will be off alignments. So there will be less traffic impacts on the roadway. There will be times during construction where we will be down to one-lane closures for certain aspects,” Dockstader said. “We may have a short detour over the night, or a day or so.”

The construction, which officially began April 3, is expected to finish in late fall of 2018. The project is part of IDOT’s five-year Iowa Highway Transportation Plan.

Dockstader said 12 parcels of land have been purchased in connection to the interchange project. The acquisition costs totaled $1,783,923, with the relocation costs totaling $435,443, so far.

IDOT purchased 60 acres of Larry Cleverley’s family farm for the project. This land contains 30 acres of timber and all of the Mingo farmer’s USDA-certified organic fields. IDOT recently agreed to help relocate a historic barn that was located on the purchased land. IDOT officials say they have not yet received any bills in connection to the relocation.

For more information, visit iowadot.gov.

Contact Anthony Victor Reyes at areyes@jaspercountytribune.com

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