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City hosts streetscape progress meeting

BY CORY PORTER | OCTOBER 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City officials are still looking for feedback on a streetscape project.

“It is important for the city to upgrade its underground utilities and look for ways to enhance the public spaces,” said Geoff Fruin, the assistant to the city manager.

The city held three meetings in the fall of 2013 to discuss its plans with the public and receive feedback, and the most recent event was to show how far along the city is in the project.

A construction schedule hadn’t been set yet, he said, but officials hope to start in 2016. The budget for the project is around $11 million.

Glen Meisner, a partner and engineer surveyor at MMS Consultants Inc., said his team spent six weeks over the summer surveying Dubuque Street, Washington Street, and the Pededstrian Mall.

The team looked for any minor change to concrete, water pipes, and fountains, before beginning schematic designs.

Fruin said the Ped Mall wouldn’t receive a complete overhaul, only enhancements, including such items as lighting and improvements to pedestrian traffic.

The city is planning on doing extensive work to the roads and sidewalks of Dubuque Street and Washington Street. Fruin said the city is aware of the potential disruption this could cause, and officials intend to work quickly and be aware of business owners’ needs.

Another engineer with MMS Consultants, Steve Noack, said it is crucial the city plans ahead.

“If the city’s going to go to the expense of doing all these surface improvements, you want to be sure that the buried infrastructure is at adequate capacity and in good condition,” he said.

Dylan Jones, associate landscape architect with Genus Landscape Architects, said Iowa City is a good place for a project such as this.

“This is just a really prime area; you have a very successful college campus, you have a very successful downtown business district, a very progressive forward-thinking city, and one of the only successful pedestrian malls in the nation,” Jones said.

Local citizen Craig Taylor said he was particularly interested in what the city was planning for the Pedestrian Mall because he plans to become a street vendor there.

“Comparing this with other cities, the Ped Mall area seems to be a very, very popular for a lot of camaraderie,” Taylor said.

He said the unique location and atmosphere provides people with opportunities that people from other cities aren’t afforded.

“It looks like the Ped Mall’s going to have a lot of accommodations for everyone, and that’s what excites me,” Taylor said.


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