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Gateway nearing design phase

BY DANIEL SEIDL | MARCH 31, 2014 5:00 AM

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As the Iowa City City Council prepares to make a paramount decision on the Gateway Project, residents stress the effect the project could have on their lives.

“The reason it’s important for our neighborhood is that by improving the bridge … our neighborhoods will be less likely to have to evacuate [when there’s flooding],” said Peninsula Neighborhood Homeowner’s Association board member Laurie Schweer.

The council will consider the specific design elements for the project on Tuesday, and the project will finally make the move into the design phase.

Flood reduction is just one goal of the roughly $40 million project, which will raise a portion of Dubuque Street and redesign the Park Road Bridge.

The Peninsula neighborhood is just one area that will be affected by the project, Schweer said.

“There are many neighborhoods now that are west of Dubuque Street,” she said. “There are 700 household[s] west of the intersection [of Foster Road and Dubuque Street].”

Population isn’t the only area in which the street has a large impact, said Iowa City Public Works Director Rick Fosse.

“This corridor is a workhorse,” he said. “It is second only to Highway 6 in traffic volume.”

Last month, many residents of these neighborhoods, as well as others, attended a public meeting hosted by city staff to seek opinion on the project.

Staff gathered input from the meeting and drafted recommendations for the council. The recommendations include a sidewalk on the east side of Dubuque Street, as well as a trail on the west side.

Fosse said one of the main reasons for having these trails is to solidify Dubuque Street’s position as a pathway for many forms of transportation, including pedestrians.

“Dubuque Street also serves as a multi-modal corridor,” he said. “Enhancing all the modes of transportation on this corridor has been a priority with us from the start.”

Councilor Kingsley Botchway said he is mostly pleased with the recommendations, but he still needs to discuss the design before making a decision.

“Are we building for the future?” he said “What if more traffic becomes a part of Dubuque Street?”

Mayor Matt Hayek agreed it is important for the project to last, and said the council will carefully consider all aspects of the project.

“This is a 50- or 75-year decision,” he said. “We need to get the critical elements of the project right.”


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