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Cedar Heights Drive to get upgrade between Viking and Greenhill

Cedar Heights Drive to get upgrade between Viking and Greenhill

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CEDAR FALLS — A stretch of Cedar Heights Drive is getting an upgrade that will widen it to include left turn lanes and at least one roundabout.

The 0.8-mile section of the two-lane street would be reconstructed from the East Viking Road roundabout heading north and east through the intersection of East Greenhill Road. The project has a preliminary estimate of about $6 million.

Plans include replacement of the existing traffic signal at Cedar Heights Drive and East Greenhill Road with a multi-lane roundabout. Construction of a single lane roundabout at Cedar Heights and Huntington Road is also a possibility.

A public hearing on the project is set for the Dec. 2 City Council meeting.

In the meantime, the city of Cedar Falls held a public information meeting Tuesday with project consultant Snyder & Associates for area residents and other interested people. It highlighted some changes, including the addition of the Huntington roundabout, since a similar information session was held in September.

“That’s the biggest change,” said Patrick Schwickerath, a civil engineer with Snyder & Associates. “We’ve incorporated that into the preliminary design.”

The addition was based on input from people at the prior meeting and a longer range view of the area that considered the possibility of building the roundabout feature.

“We knew that intersection at Huntington was working,” said Mark Perington, who studies traffic patterns for Snyder & Associates. But accidents have occurred and an upgrade may be needed in three to five years after this project is completed. With reconstruction planned for the road, he said “there’s never a cheaper time” to redesign the intersection.

Perington said the reconstruction will add “a lot of amenities that (are) going to change it from that country feel.” Currently, the road has gravel shoulders with drainage ditches on either side. Among the improvements would be curb and gutter along the road.

“The pavement will be 34 feet” in width, said Schwickerath. “And right now it is 24 feet.” From the curb on one side of the street to the other, total width will be 39 feet.

The new road would still have two driving lanes but would be widened with a median and the turn lanes. It would feature a raised median from East Viking Road to Prairie Street, a designated southbound left turn lane from Prairie Street to Huntington Road and a two-way center left turn lane from Huntington Road to East Greenhill Road. Including turn lanes is expected to help with traffic flow.

“Generally, there’s been, I guess, some slow growth over time,” said Perington, in the amount of traffic on the road. “It’s around 10,000 vehicles per day. Some day we think it could get to 17,000-18,000.”

He estimates it would reach that point by 2045, or 23 years after the project is completed – a growth rate in traffic of 1.5%-2% annually. Much of the growth relates to development underway to the west and the location of John Deere facilities to the south.

The upgrades are expected to help “achieve some safety improvements,” said Perington, as the traffic load grows and provide for more efficient flow.

Improvements would be made to the sanitary sewer, water main, and storm sewer systems among other road-related items. A trail would be added on the west side of the road along the entire stretch. Roadway lighting would also be installed along the corridor.

Property acquisition would be for roadway and utility right-of-way. Plans show the need to acquire fee titles or easements from about 20 property owners.

Schwickerath said bids wouldn’t be sought on the project until next fall with construction happening in two phases, during 2021 and 2022.

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