Harrison Street could be paved


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Harrison Street could see some structural changes in the coming year.

The city plans to reconstruct the brick street next year, but if Johnson County’s courthouse-annex bond referendum passes, the county will seek to acquire the street from the city for a staging area and for future parking.

Iowa City engineer Ron Knoche said it would not negatively affect how traffic flows in the area if the county takes over the section of Harrison Street just south of the courthouse.

Supervisor John Etheredge said he believes it is important to acquire Harrison Street regardless of whether the referendum is approved.

“We would like Harrison Street to be vacated if the courthouse annex passes,” he said. “We would like to take it over even if it doesn’t pass so that we can have more parking to fit the future needs of the county.”

Plans to add on to the existing courthouse are included in the referendum.

The courthouse annex would include six courtrooms, offices for judges, an atrium, and a grand staircase.

Current plans will leave the courthouse fully visible from all sides, with the annex built on the west side.

Residents will vote on the annex referendum in November.

If approved, the city would preserve the Harrison Street bricks for future brick-street reconstruction projects.

Iowa City began its brick-street reconstruction in 2008, when it reconstructed the intersection of Church and Dubuque Streets.

For the year 2017, the city has budgeted $800,000 for brick-street reconstruction, Knoche said.

“Over the past several years, the city has tried to repair existing brick streets and has done so successfully, so I would hope that we continue to do so in the future,” City Councilor Jim Throgmorton said.

At tonight’s work session, the city councilors will meet to discuss plans for Harrison Street.

The goal is to maintain the brick streets in the community. They are characteristic of the city, and they aid in slowing the movement of traffic.

Though the budget for 2017 will not allow the city to reconstruct all streets, Knoche said, the city will work on the worst streets first.

The removal of bricks from Harrison Street will allow for more bricks for future projects while not taking away from the character of that portion of town.

“For this project, we’ll remove the bricks and salvage them for future use,” Knoche said. “Brick streets are not characteristic of that part of town.”

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