Two long conference room walls at the Iowa Department of Transportation’s District 6 office here were covered last week with detailed blow-ups of the final alignment of the long-awaited, about-to-be-built Highway 100 extension from Edgewood Road west and south to Highway 30.
At this latest public open house to discuss the project’s progress, Jim Schnoebelen, the DOT’s District 6 engineer, started his short remarks by saying that the $200 million project "is fully funded."
Schnoebelen proceeded to detail the DOT’s timeline for building the 7.5-mile stretch of highway in two phases — a first phase from Edgewood Road to Covington Road (also known as F Avenue NW), and a second phase from Covington Road to Highway 30.
The first phase will begin in 2014 and should be complete in 2018, with entire project finished in 2020.
Last week’s meeting, attended by about 60 residents, contractors, consultants and state and city employees and elected officials, revealed the final alignment for the project’s second phase and, at the same time, kicked off the DOT process to acquire land for the second half of the project.
Much of the land acquisition is underway for the project’s first phase, the district engineer said.
In his comments, Schnoebelen highlighted the interchanges at Highway 30 and Edgewood Road:
- The interchange at the project’s southern end at Highway 30 will take eastbound traffic on Highway 30 headed north above Highway 30 and onto northbound Highway 100 without the need for an exit ramp. At the same time, a portion of 16th Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids near the interchange will be rerouted and will not have direct access to Highway 30.
- The Edgewood Road interchange will feature a single point urban interchange – SPUI in DOT parlance — similar to the Interstate 35 interchange at Mills Civic Parkway in West Des Moines. Traffic signals for all left-turn exits from Highway 100, left-turn on-ramps from Edgewood Road and through traffic on Edgewood Road will be at one spot in the middle of the Edgewood Road bridge over Highway 100, said Cathy Cutler, a planner in the DOT's Cedar Rapids office.
Last week’s meeting also featured a display by the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Agency, which has hired project consultants to begin to conceptualize the best ways for the new Highway 100 corridor to development in the years and decades ahead.
"In the absence of a plan, things are going to happen very randomly," said Jim Halvorson, vice president at HR Green Co. in Cedar Rapids and the project manager for the early planning effort.
Such planning, Halvorson said, can help direct where best to have commercial and residential areas develop, and then will aid local governments in deciding what size of utilities such as sewers need to be built to serve the developing area.
It’s easy, he said, to look at highways that now are developed in Cedar Rapids, such as Collins Road NE — which is part of Highway 100 — and then to try to learn lessons about what not to repeat in the new highway segment.
Scott Olson, Cedar Rapids council member and a Realtor for Skogman Commercial, said planning is vital for the growth area that will come with the new highway and access points to it.
"The project is probably going to give the largest expansion of new ground that the city has ever seen," Olson said. "This is property that is going to change the face of Cedar Rapids.
"We don’t really know the full impact. It’s going to take decades to develop this amount of land."
The project also will feature interchanges at Covington Road (F Avenue NW) and E Avenue NW.
Earlier this year, the DOT took a first step on the project by constructing a new pond next to the Rock Island Preserve off 42nd Street NE for turtles that will be affected by the new highway. This winter, the DOT will build a wildlife underpass under the highway alignment near the new pond.
Tree clearing also will take place this winter.The award of bids for the grading work on the first phase of the project is expected in early 2014, as is the award for the construction of the bridge over the Cedar River and smaller bridges at Edgewood Road, Covington Road, Ushers Ferry Road and Old Ferry Road.