Transportation planners have decided to stick close to the current Highway 30 alignment as they prepare to widen the highway to four lanes in Benton County.
Preferred designs for the widening project, which is slated for major construction beginning in 2016, will be highlighted at a meeting Tuesday in Blairstown.
The Iowa Department of Transportation will present its recommended widening plan, which calls for using the existing highway alignment for the two westbound lanes and adding two eastbound lanes to the south. It also will present its preferred option for new interchanges at Highway 218 and Highway 21, and the findings of an environmental assessment.
Department District Engineer Jim Schnoebelen said one of the major factors in the alignment recommendation was to address public perceptions. State. Sen. Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone, indicated last year that many landowners along the highway were concerned that two alternatives that did not reuse the existing pavement alignment would take more land.
One of the options rejected for the Highway 218 interchange was realigning 218 in order to minimize impact to the Youngville Cafe and the Prairie Lutheran Cemetery, two significant historic sites along the route.
Schnoebelen said the preferred Highway 218 interchange design is the one with a double-loop interchange design that avoids direct impact to the properties.
The preferred design for the Highway 21 interchange, meanwhile, is a traditional rural “diamond” interchange.
The department’s five-year Transportation Improvement Program calls for more than $9 million in Highway 30 spending in Benton County in 2014, $5.86 million in 2015 and more than $23 million in 2016.
The program calls for grading, wetland mitigation and bridge construction in 2016.
Tuesday’s meeting will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Blairstown Community Center, 305 Locust St. SW. It will include a formal presentation at 6 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session.