MUSCATINE - A two-hour Muscatine City Council in-depth meeting Thursday touched on several upcoming or potential projects in the city, including the planned improvements for Grandview Avenue.

Greg Broussard, project manager for Bolton & Menk, Ames; and Joseph Spradling, senior transportation engineer associate, HDR, Inc., Des Moines; provided an update on the project, which is slated to be under construction next year.

The 2.1-mile project will extend from the U.S Highway 61 Bypass to Pearl Street. However, the section from the bypass to Houser Street will be “soft improvements,” such as tree plantings and trail crossings, while the major road improvements will go from Houser to Pearl, Broussard said.

He told the council the final design had been completed and the 90 percent plans had been submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) on Tuesday.

“So now we are waiting for their comments and working on the jurisdictional approvals,” he continued, explaining that included Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) permits and other authorizations.

Broussard said once the approvals start coming back the next step will be to go into the bidding and the letting on the project, ultimately ending with the construction starting in 2019. The two said construction would continue into the 2020 construction season before it is completed.

A variety of improvements are planned for the street, including enhanced pedestrian opportunities; incorporation of architectural/streetscape elements developed as part of the Mississippi Drive improvements; replacement of aging water, sewer and other infrastructure; as well as updating the street pavement, he said.

Broussard and Spradling outlined several specific features of the project. Unlike Mississippi Drive, there will be no center median on Grandview, they said.

“We will have one lane in each direction with a center turn lane,” Broussard said, pointing out the diverse land uses made that design more appropriate.

“We’ll have a lot of curb cuts, which really lends that center turn lane to being a safe and efficient method to get the traffic in and out,” he said.

Roundabout considered

Other design features will include wider, curbed travel lanes; sidewalks; a pedestrian/bicycle rest area at Oregon and Grandview and other upgrades. One significant modification will be at Houser and Grandview. Broussard said the design team initially looked at constructing a roundabout at that site, but eventually chose to remove the traffic signal light that is located there and replace it with stop signs.

Lane modifications and the construction of a right turn lane will allow more trucks to turn onto Houser even if a train is blocking the street.

Broussard said several green infrastructures, such as rain gardens and other features will also be included with the improvements.

Meanwhile, Spradling focused on the staging and phasing for the project and the potential impact the construction will have on businesses along the street.

“We will be maintaining traffic throughout construction,” he assured the council, explaining the project will be split into local phases to minimize the impacts.

Spradling said construction will be completed on one half of the roadway and then switched to the other side so traffic can continue to use the street.

“We’re trying to minimize road closures as much as possible. We don’t want to interrupt accesses to residences, accesses to businesses,” he said.

The northern half of the project is expected to be constructed in the 2019 construction season, with the southern half scheduled for construction in the 2020 season.

There will be short-term road closures at Briar’s Ditch and the Canadian Pacific railroad crossing. The closures will occur at the same time in 2020 to allow culvert reconstruction work at Briar’s Ditch and reconstruction of the railroad crossing.

“Access will be maintained (for businesses and residences),” Spradling told the council, although in a few cases the access may have to come through an alley.

Although council members asked several questions, the responses from the two engineers appeared to satisfy any immediate concerns about the proposal.

The engineers, however, did agree to continue research and provide additional information.

In other action, the council:

• Discussed continued flooding issues and possible solutions along a section of Lake Park Boulevard with public works staff. After Brian Stineman, public works director, outlined some of the options and said they all continued to have flooding potentials and carried price tags over $100,000, several council members indicated the best solution might be to look into property buyout options;

• Received a request from several city residents to investigate the possibility of creating a port authority in the city. City staff said an earlier study might provide some guidance and advised council members they would provide a link so they could review it;

• Received a report from at-large council member Kelsey Brackett on an ad-hoc committee that looked into public dissatisfaction with building permit and inspection programs. City administrator Gregg Mandsager said he would contact other communities to determine how they survey satisfaction and would also look into using a National Citizens Survey, a research tool that was considered several years ago but then dropped;

• Gave informal approval to a public works reorganizational plan developed by Stineman, who indicated he would implement the plan after discussing budget issues with other city staff.

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