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Theme park drives rebuilding of Shaulis Road

Theme park drives rebuilding of Shaulis Road

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WATERLOO — The city is moving forward with plans for an $11 million reconstruction of Shaulis Road near the planned Lost Island Theme Park.

Waterloo City Council members approved a $545,000 contract this week for HR Green Inc. of Cedar Rapids to design the rebuilding of East Shaulis Road between Hess Road and U.S. Highway 218.

The roadway runs past the Lost Island Water Park, Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo, and a $100 million amusement park being developed by water park owners Gary and Becky Bertch.

The Iowa Transportation Commission is expected to vote next week on whether to approve a grant from the Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy program to cover half of the projected $11.06 million road project.

Council members had initially tabled voting on the HR Green contract so staff could identify funding sources for the work.

The city’s $5.53 million match for the RISE grant is expected to come from a combination of funds to be identified in a development agreement for the Lost Island Theme Park project. That pact has yet to be approved.

Community Planning and Development Director Noel Anderson said the road work likely will come from a combination of city bond funds, tax-increment financing and local option sales tax revenue. The bonds would be sold in June.

A RISE application on file with DOT shows $11.06 million estimated cost with $5.53 million request.

“The road improvements will be necessary for the theme park project,” Anderson said when council members questioned the need to approve the design contract before the RISE grant is approved. “If we deny the road improvements I guess we would deny the theme park.”

City Engineer Jamie Knutson also said it was important to get the road project underway quickly.

“The theme park is expected to open in the spring of (2022),” Knutson said. “We need to have the road completed obviously prior to that. Right now we’re on a very tight time frame on order to get that completed.”

The HR Green design contract includes reconstructing the roadway, including six intersections and a major redesign of the signalized intersection of Shaulis, Dysart Road and U.S. 218.

The project also includes the design of 28 box culverts and a bridge to better convey floods in the Sink Creek watershed.

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