CEDAR FALLS — Motorists on University Avenue will have a much smoother ride on a major portion of that road this week as reconstruction continues.
In a major shift, traffic on University between Midway and Cedar Heights Drives is planned to be switched from the old pavement on the north side of the road to the new pavement on the south side Wednesday, according to city staff and officials with Phase II project contractor Peterson Contractors Inc. of Reinbeck.
“Work at the Cedar Heights intersection continues and when they complete the south side, we’ll switch traffic in that area, so the entire way from Cedar Heights to Midway is all on new pavement, head to head,” Sheetz said.
University is being reconstructed through Cedar Falls over several years. Work began last year on the section in front of College Square mall and Black Hawk Village shopping center. That is essentially completed, Sheetz said.
The road is being narrowed from six lanes to four and six of its eight previously signalized intersections replaced with roundabouts in the current section under construction. The Rownd intersection will remain signalized and a roundabout is being built at Cedar Heights Drive.
Current work underway is between McClain and Rownd, and Cedar Heights and Midway. “The contractor schedule shows they will complete both of these areas by the end of the year. We hope for good fall weather,” Sheetz said.
A middle section, between Cedar Heights and Rownd, will be reconstructed next year.
The road is being similarly reconstructed in Waterloo, which has opted for no roundabouts.
It’s the most significant overhaul of University, once part of U.S. Highway 218, since the road was created and opened in the early 1970s as a six-lane road with a series of signalized intersections. The road had deteriorated significantly over the years. The state turned jurisdiction of the road over to the city with $20 million to bring it up to a good maintenance condition.
Cedar Falls’ portion of the work has been estimated to cost $38.5 million, plus another $3.5 million for concurrent access road improvements, which businesses requested be done at the same time as the main road.
Other revenues include sewer revenue bonds, local option sales tax, storm water and Cedar Falls Utilities revenues and street construction funds from the city’s portion of state gas tax revenues. The city also received a $500,000 state safety grant for work at the Cedar Heights intersection and $450,000 from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association for bicycle, pedestrian and landscaping improvements.
Waterloo currently has $28 million it received from the Iowa DOT when jurisdiction of its portion of University was transferred from the state to the city. Additional funding is being sought to complete the project.