By The Gazette Editorial Board
We live in one of the two fastest-growing areas of the state. Our corridor continues to see robust growth in population, jobs, housing demand and other measures — including traffic on I-380, the vital artery that runs through the heart of our region.
A year-old Iowa Department of Transportation study concluded that the continued increase in traffic on the 11-mile stretch of I-380 south of Wright Brothers Boulevard SW on Cedar Rapids’ southern edge to I-80 would justify adding a third lane in each direction by 2020.
The approved Highway 100 extension project from Edgewood Road NE west, then south to Highway 30, expected to be done by 2020, will ease some of the congestion on I-380.
But local officials say the Highway 100 extension won’t do enough to relieve the growing congestion to our south.
“A six-lane (on I-380) is inevitable,” Linn County Engineer Steve Gannon told a Gazette reporter last week.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett is leading a push to get the extra lanes, as the DOT does not have that proposal on its priority list.
“The region is in a great position for growth. And there’s going to be continued transportation challenges in the future,” Corbett said.
However, with the DOT’s $200 million annual shortfall in its basic maintenance and vital improvements budget, and decreased federal road funding, finding the money won’t be easy.
Before accepting that six lanes on I-380 is the only good option, why not review other public transportation options that may be less costly and just as effective in easing highway traffic?
What about a commuter bus system? Or that long-discussed light rail passenger line?
What do corridor commuters think?
Would enough of them use a bus or train if they were convenient enough and reasonably priced?
Something needs to give soon on I-380 traffic. Adding lanes may be the best option. But let’s not overlook other, more innovative solutions to ease our growing pains.
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