City of Muscatine

MUSCATINE — A proposed project to change a portion of Park Avenue in Muscatine from a four-lane road to a three-lane road is moving forward.

Muscatine City Council Thursday night approved a cooperative agreement with the Iowa Department of Transportation for the project that will cover the road from Colorado Street to just beyond the Mississippi River Bridge on 2nd Street.

City Engineer Jim Edgmond told the council the entire project will cost around $1.8 million, and about $1.4 million will come from four different funding sources — the Urban-State Traffic Engineering Program, IDOT's 3R and Americans with Disabilities Act programs and the Traffic Safety Improvement Program. TSIP funding had already been approved and council approved a request to apply for the other funds in December.

Work includes an "extensive amount" of pavement removal, Edgmond said, along with concrete patching, repairing manholes, fixing curbs and gutters, and repairing or replacing storm water inlets. After work is completed, striping will be done at the intersections, sidewalks will be repaired and all ramps will be replaced. "Nothing significant" will be done at the intersection of Harrison and Colorado Street, Edgmond said, where the roadway changes from four lanes to three lanes other than repainting lanes to line up traffic. Traffic signals will stay in place at the bridge, 5th Street and Washington Street. General grading will be done on the parkways, Edgmond said, by request of Councilman Allen Harvey.

Edgmond also addressed concerns about downed trees along South Houser Street. The trees were cut down as part of the West Side Trail project and have been along the street for an extended period.

Edgmond said because the project is funded in part by federal dollars, federal rules apply including those of the endangered species act. He said according to federal regulations, trees cannot be cut down from April through October, so the trees were cut down prior. The Indiana bat and the long-eared bat are on the endangered species list and trees in their habitats may only be cut down when the animals are hibernating, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Edgmond said a request for proposals to remove the trees have gone out for bid, with only one coming back to Public Works. He also said the project could be done "quicker and safer" if the road was closed and made a request to council for a two-day closure.

Without closing the street, he said, the project would likely last one week, traffic would have to alternate around work crews and flagmen would have to be stationed entire time. The RFP did request cost estimates for each scenario: closing the road or leaving it open.

Councilman Osmond Malcolm wanted to see the cost difference and said closing the road may make it difficult for people living in the area to commute.

From a safety aspect, that would work better than having to dodge traffic all the time, Brockert said. 

Councilman Phil Fitzgerald, who raised the issue of the downed trees to Public Works, said, "My belief is number one it's a safety issue, number two I would rather inconvenience the people for two days rather than carry it on for an entire week."

Councilwoman Nadine Brockert, and Councilmen Tom Spread and Kelcey Brackett also agreed that safety was the biggest concern.

Edgmond said information about cost savings will go out to council for review.

Brackett also requested the department repair the "axle-breaking" pot hole on Miller's Hill (Fletcher Avenue) before proceeding with the tree removal on Houser Street.

The trees will be taken to the Transfer Station and a notice will be posted to the department web page. Wood will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Mississippi Drive and 2nd Street may be open Monday, he said, depending on how long it takes to clean mud off the roads and flood gate. Phase 1 of the Mississippi Drive Corridor project has been completed and passed inspection. Council approved a resolution accepting the work to close that portion of the project.

Council is scheduled to meet again for a regular session at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 6, in council chambers at City Hall, 215 Sycamore St.

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