WATERLOO, Iowa --- About 60 people attended the first in a series of public informational meetings at Hoover Middle School on Tuesday about the Kimball Avenue improvements project.
Audience members, mostly residents and business owners from the affected area, listened while Larry Berns of Ament Design explained the scope of the project, which is intended to improve traffic safety, capacity and efficiency along Kimball Avenue and on designated intersecting side streets.
The $5.8 million project is in the preliminary stages, and construction is not expected to begin until April or May 2014.
According to literature distributed at the meeting, proposed improvements include:
Widening and reconstruction of Kimball Avenue from 500 feet south of Tower Park Drive to Acadia Street to create a five- or six-lane roadway with a center turn lane and an additional southbound left-turn lane and added southbound right-turn lane at San Marnan Drive.
Widening of San Marnan Drive from 1,320 feet west of Kimball Avenue near Johnathan Street to 1,320 feet east of Kimball near Shoppers Boulevard that provides an additional eastbound left-turn lane at Kimball and a new westbound right-turn lane for Pheasant Lane located west of the Kimball intersection.
Widening of Ridgeway Avenue from 600 feet west of Kimball Avenue to 600 feet east of Kimball Avenue that will create a center turn lane and a right-turn lane on each approach.
Possible widening of Park Lane from 450 feet west of Kimball Avenue to 450 feet east of Kimball that creates a new left-turn lane on each approach.
Berns said based on the current condition of the roadway, total reconstruction is planned for most of the corridor.
Residents voiced a number of concerns, including asking if Kimball Avenue would remain open during construction.
"It is our goal to have a lane in each direction open during construction," Berns said. "That may not happen 100 percent, but that is our goal."
Residents also questioned how eliminating the option of a left turn on to Kimball from the Kum & Go parking lot would be enforced.
"We would use geometry or raised medians to accomplish that," Berns said.
Resident Kathy Downing has lived in the area for 40 years, first on Park Lane and then on Linda Road. Over the years, she has seen a string of attempts to relieve traffic congestion on Kimball Avenue, but feels none of them have completely solved the problem.
Downing suggested opening up the frontage road along Kimball from Park Lane to Rachael Street would help alleviate the problem.
"If you're going to do this � then finish the job," she said.
Up to 80 percent of funding for the project will come from a federal Surface Transportation Program, and a minimum of 20 percent will come from non-federal local matching funds. The project is expected to cost approximately $5.8 million.
Additional information and project updates are available on Facebook under "Kimball Ave Waterloo."