A project that has been in the works for several years, the resurfacing of First Avenue East, is moving forward once again. Planned to run from the 1400 block to the 2800 block, the project will see a complete mill and overlay of the roadway, the first time in 30 years.
“It is an Iowa Department of Transportation project that is a full-width, curb to curb, mill and hot-mix asphalt resurfacing project with America’s with Disabilities Act compliant pedestrian curb ramps and sidewalk infill on one or both sides of First Avenue,” community services manager Brian Laube said.
The project started in 2016 when the city looked at changing the street from a four-lane configuration to a three-lane “road diet,” consisting of an east and west bound lane with a center turning lane and bike lane. A concept statement with the “road diet” was submitted to the IDOT, though public reaction to the changes brought the project to a halt.
“At an Aug. 4, 2016 open house, the lane reduction was not very well received,” Laube said.
Since the original concept statement had the lane reduction included, a revised submission was needed to move the project forward. Laube said he also discovered while looking through the financing of the project there is no commitment from the IDOT to pay its share of the costs for the work.
“Because it is still a part of the US Highway 6 system, any work in the travel way is paid for by the IDOT and anywhere outside the lanes of First Avenue, which includes the curb sidewalk ramps, is at city cost,” Laube said.
In total, the project is estimated to cost more than $1.1 million. The IDOT’s share is more than half at $678,150, while the city is responsible for $452,750. That amount is broken down into $362,200 from the city’s Surface Transportation Program funds and a $90,550 match from the Road Use Tax funds.
“As we proceeded through the budget process this winter, we still were having our local match in this fiscal year’s budget that was approved in March,” Laube said. “The IDOT’s reply was they would not have any state funds available until, at the earliest, July 1, 2019, which is more than a year away.”
While funding may not be available for this construction year, Laube plans to start the process to get a commitment from the IDOT for funding. He will submit the revised four-lane concept statement to the state and begin to prepare plans and specs for the work to be approved by city council.
One question submitted on the project by councilman Steve Mullan was the status of sidewalks along the roadway. Laube said on the north side of the street there are several large obstacles including gas and electrical lines along with Memorial Park Cemetery. He said adding consistent sides walks will be a part of the planning he expects to work on this summer.
“The direction (from council) is to continue to move forward with the four lane and look at (sidewalk) bike trail options,” mayor Mike Hansen said.
If the project moves forward in a timely manner, Laube said construction could occur some time between July and November 2019.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or firstname.lastname@example.org