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Crosstown Connector: A new link between First, Second avenues could be done this year

March 20, 2014
By BILL SHEA (bshea@messengernews.net) , Messenger News

Construction of a downtown street realignment that's a key element of the planned crosstown connector is expected to start this year in Fort Dodge.

By the end of the year, a new link between First and Second avenues south in the area of Sixth Street may be done.

''The hope would be that we could do the majority of it all in one year,'' said Mayor Matt Bemrich, That street link, part of a larger project that would turn First Avenue South into a two-way road for its entire length, was delayed by two years by a City Council majority that was opposed to the project.

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However, in November voters chose a new council majority that supports the project. Bemrich said Chad Schaeffer, the city's director of engineering, business affairs and community growth, and Wade Greiman, a project manager with Snyder & Associates of Ankeny, are working out the construction sequence.

''We want to start right away in the spring,'' Bemrich said.

The work will start with the demolition of some buildings near the intersection of First Avenue South and Sixth Street that the city government purchased about two years ago so that they could be removed to make way for the new street connection.

The street realignment was first proposed in a downtown masterplan prepared by Camiros, of Chicago, Ill. It's intended to force more traffic toward Central Avenue, the core of the downtown. The City Council adopted that plan in 2008.

Later, the staff of Snyder & Associates identified the area between Fifth and Sixth streets as the best site for a street connection. That firm submitted its recommendation in 2010. City leaders began planning and applying for financial help, eventually securing about $2.2 million worth of grants.

A City Council majority opposed to project took office following the 2011 election.

After much debate and some packed public meetings, a compromise was worked out in which the downtown work was delayed until this year, while storm water drainage improvements on the city's east side were accelerated.

With a new council majority in office, Bemrich said he expects the project can be advanced quickly.

First Avenue South between Eighth and 10th streets is slated to be rebuilt in 2015.

The entire crosstown connector project is scheduled to be completed in 2017 with the construction of a roundabout intersection at First Avenue South and 12th Street.

The total cost of the crosstown connector, including work downtown and in the retail area on the city's east side, has been estimated by city officials at $17,962,000.

Other downtown projects

Creation of the new street connection won't be the only major road work going on in downtown Fort Dodge this year. First Avenue North between Third and Seventh streets will be rebuilt.

That project will include total reconstruction of the pavement, sidewalk replacement and the installation of new water mains, sanitary sewers and storm sewers.

Wicks Construction, of Decorah, has a $2,839,770.25 contract for the job. The city has received $1,695,000 from the federal government to help pay for the work.

City Manager David Fierke has previously said that when the project is complete he will recommend that First Avenue North be converted to two-way traffic for its entire downtown length. It is now a two-way street between Third and Seventh streets. Between Seventh and 12th streets, it is a one-way street with all traffic heading east.

Smaller improvement projects slated for downtown include repairing brick crosswalks, painting lamp posts in the City Square and installing signs that will help people find amenities through the city.

A close look at parking conditions downtown may be undertaken with the aid of a consultant, according to Stephanie Houk Sheetz, the senior city planner. She said parking is a high priority for leaders of the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District, a roughly 33-block area in which property owners pay an extra tax to finance improvements there. She said the study could start in July.

With a new council majority in office, Bemrich said he expects the project can be advanced quickly.

First Avenue South between Eighth and 10th streets is slated to be rebuilt in 2015.

The entire crosstown connector project is scheduled to be completed in 2017 with the construction of a roundabout intersection at First Avenue South and 12th Street.

The total cost of the crosstown connector, including work downtown and in the retail area on the city's east side, has been estimated by city officials at $17,962,000.

Other downtown projects

Creation of the new street connection won't be the only major road work going on in downtown Fort Dodge this year. First Avenue North between Third and Seventh streets will be rebuilt.

That project will include total reconstruction of the pavement, sidewalk replacement and the installation of new water mains, sanitary sewers and storm sewers.

Wicks Construction, of Decorah, has a $2,839,770.25 contract for the job. The city has received $1,695,000 from the federal government to help pay for the work.

City Manager David Fierke has previously said that when the project is complete he will recommend that First Avenue North be converted to two-way traffic for its entire downtown length. It is now a two-way street between Third and Seventh streets. Between Seventh and 12th streets, it is a one-way street with all traffic heading east.

Smaller improvement projects slated for downtown include repairing brick crosswalks, painting lamp posts in the City Square and installing signs that will help people find amenities through the city.

A close look at parking conditions downtown may be undertaken with the aid of a consultant, according to Stephanie Houk Sheetz, the senior city planner. She said parking is a high priority for leaders of the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District, a roughly 33-block area in which property owners pay an extra tax to finance improvements there. She said the study could start in July.

This article originally ran in the February 2, 2014 Progress edition of The Messenger

 
 
 

 

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