CEDAR FALLS — Two proposed commercial projects near an increasingly busy southern Cedar Falls intersection received the blessing of the Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday night. But commissioners and citizens emphasized traffic issues there must be addressed.
Commission members recommended City Council approval of site plans for a proposed Kwik Star convenience store and a new Fareway grocery store at Greenhill Road and Coneflower Parkway.
Both projects are southeast of the intersection of Greenhill Road and South Main Street. And several commissioners and residents, including those in the nearby El Dorado Heights residential areas, said attention is needed to traffic safety improvements at Greenhill and South Main.
City staff acknowledged the need in a staff report on the Fareway project.
The report cited the expansion of the Western Home campus, residential development and commercial projects in the Viking Road corridor in recent years.
“The city realizes that this intersection at Greenhill and South Main will need to be upgraded in the future,” David Sturch of the city planning staff wrote. Construction is set to begin in 2021.
In the short term, Sturch noted, the city will determine near- and long-term improvements. Staff could make a recommendation to the City Council next month.
Garrett Picklapp, general counsel for Boone-based Fareway, said he hoped any improvements could be made yet this year, concurrent with the construction of the company’s proposed store.
Several residents said short-term improvements will not be sufficient and 2021 is too long to wait for long-term improvements, particularly with the Highway 58/Viking Road interchange set to be constructed soon just a mile to the south, and the ongoing reconstruction of University Avenue about a mile to the north with that work moving toward the Highway 58 interchange this year.
“That’s going to impact our area,” resident Jill Fisher said after the meeting. “We already know the roundabouts on University Avenue have impacted our area. We know that,” with more traffic moving on to Greenhill and South Main during University’s reconstruction.
“And they’re also going to be closing what they call the ‘dog bones’ on 58?” referring to a double roundabout proposed at the University/58 interchange. “That’s all going to happen at the same time. And how are they going to re-direct the traffic? “ Fisher asked. “It doesn’t matter how they say they’re going to detour. People will find their own detours.”
She also cited heavy daily traffic on Iowa Highway 58, also known as Iowa Highway 27, the official route of the Avenue of the Saints, at least a portion of which could shift onto local streets.
“I don’t think the people object specifically to those two entities coming in, those two businesses,” Fisher said. “I think what they’re objecting to is the fact that the city has not done their due diligence in providing an infrastructure that would alleviate traffic problems.”
Improvements to the South Main/Greenhill intersection has been listed as an “unmet need” in the city’s capital improvements plan for several years, El Dorado Heights resident Penny Popp said.
Fisher also expressed concern about delivery trucks for both businesses getting in and out of the area, as well as ambulances and fire trucks when a new public safety building is built at the existing south fire station site.
Both the Kwik Star and Fareway projects may come before the City Council later this month or in early February. The council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the city’s proposed five year capital improvements plan at its meeting 7 p.m. Monday.