Gateway Project sparks debate

BY DANIEL SEIDL | APRIL 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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City officials approved elements of the design for the Gateway Project on Tuesday with conflicting opinions on various items in the proposal.

“I think these changes that we see up there … reflect a balance,” said Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek. “There are many design issues that remain to be decided.”

The project will raise a portion of Dubuque Street and redesign Park Road Bridge to increase flood protection in the area. The Iowa City City Council approved the design elements of the project on Tuesday on a 7-0 vote.

The approved elements include a 10-foot-wide trail on the west side of Dubuque Street, as well as a 6-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of the street ending south of Cliff Apartments, 1136 N. Dubuque St.

Other approved elements of the project include a lane width of 11 feet, with 2.5-foot wide gutters. There will be two northbound and southbound lanes on Dubuque Street, with a turning lane added in near the intersection with Park Road. There will be a crosswalk at Mayflower.

One of the main points of discussion at the council’s meeting was the width and ending point of the sidewalk.

Councilor Jim Throgmorton said he would have preferred no sidewalk on the east side, or at most a 4-foot wide sidewalk.

The termination point of the sidewalk was also hotly debated, whether it should end somewhere along the street or continue all the way to the intersection of Dubuque Street and Bjaysville Lane.

Hayek said it was more important for the sidewalk to reach Mayflower than the lane.

Councilor Rick Dobyns said the sidewalk should be entirely removed from the east side.

While many of the councilors did not want a sidewalk north of Cliff Apartments, Councilor Terry Dickens believed it would be better to have that option in the future.

“It’s shortsighted not to at least have it graded,” he said. “If we’re talking safety as well, I think we still need that.”

In the end, the council could not come to an agreement about the sidewalk.

While the proposal approved by the council does not include a sidewalk north of Cliff Apartments, the councilors have agreed to discuss the possibility of this sidewalk when they make additional decisions.

The speed limit on Dubuque Street was also a topic that sparked discussion among the councilors, though this discussion was much less conflicting.

“My proposal would be to move the 25 mph speed limit somewhere north of Mayflower so that people are really going ‘25-ish’ when they reach the crosswalk [at Mayflower],” said Councilor Michelle Payne.

Throgmorton agreed with Payne’s idea to move the 25 mph transition north, and suggested Foster Road as that transition point.

Eventually, the speed-limit transition was approved at Ridge Road.

The council will discuss more elements of the project at a later meeting, including the possibility of a pedestrian promenade along the river, as well as signals for the Mayflower crosswalk.

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