In the future, drivers cruising down Fifth Avenue South in Fort Dodge may find themselves on a wider, tree-lined road.
Plans for upgrading a section of the city's busiest street were unveiled at a public meeting Tuesday night, and construction could begin next year.
The effort to make the road safer and more attractive is part of the city's Corridor of Commerce project to improve the main routes to and through town.
Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Ellen and Toly Polewik, who own SP Electronics, look over a rendering of the first phase of the Fifth Avenue South corridor improvement project as Jennifer Winter, with Howard R. Green Co., answers questions during a public information meeting at Fort Dodge Ford. Their business, located at 2929 Fifth Ave. S., is just outside the area included in the first phase. The plans are still preliminary.
Fifth Avenue South between 21st and 29th streets was the focus of the session at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Mercury Toyota, 2723 Fifth Ave. S., attended by about 20 people.
Plans presented by the staff of Howard R. Green Co., of Cedar Rapids, call for making that stretch of road five lanes wide. According to the plans, the completed street would have two lanes of traffic going in each direction, with a center lane for turning. Jim Harbaugh, a landscape architect and project manager for the company, said the road would be expanded by adding more right-of-way on its north side.
Harbaugh said trees, street lights and sidewalks would be added on each side of Fifth Avenue South.
At a glance
Here are the proposed improvements for Fifth Avenue South between 21st and 29th streets:
- Two lanes of traffic in each direction, with a turning lane in the middle.
- Sidewalks, trees and streetlights on both sides of the road.
- Landscaping and brick crosswalks at the intersections.
- Landscaped entrance to Crossroads Mall in the 2500 block of Fifth Avenue South.
That road's intersections with 21st, 25th and 29th streets would get a makeover that includes landscaping, plazas with limestone columns and crosswalks made of brick, according to Harbaugh.
More trees, a small pond and new signs marking the entrance to Crossroads Mall would be placed in a lot in the 2500 block of Fifth Avenue South that was purchased by the City Council Monday.
Harbaugh did not have a cost estimate for the work Tuesday evening.
The plans elicited strong support from some of the people at the session, and skepticism from others.
Garret Weiland, of Fort Dodge, said he believed the project should have been started 30 years ago.
The city, he said, ''would draw a lot more if we had a place that looks halfway decent.''
He credits Fort Dodge Mayor Terry Lutz with getting the project started.
''I think Terry is doing a fine, fine job,'' Weiland said.
Ron Arends, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1857, which has its headquarters at Fifth Avenue South and 29th Street, was less enthusiastic about the effort.
''There's a lot of other things that need to be done,'' he said.
Arends said he thinks repairing the streets is more important than doing the corridor project.
The City Council has not awarded any contracts for carrying out the Fifth Avenue South improvements presented Tuesday.
Sometime this year, the council members will decide if they want the power lines along that section of Fifth Avenue South to be placed underground. If the elected officials opt for underground lines, they will have two options for paying for the work. They can allow MidAmerican Energy to recover the cost by adding a temporary surcharge to the bills of its Fort Dodge customers, or the council can choose to have the local government pay for it with property tax revenue.
Construction of the first phase of the corridor project is to start this spring with intersection upgrades at Fifth Avenue South and Eighth Street and at U.S. Highway 169 and Kenyon Road. Hovey Construction Inc. of Fort Dodge has already started digging at Eighth Street and Fifth Avenue South.
Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or email@example.com