CLINTON — The future of some of Clinton’s major roadways is looking bright as officials in recent months have unveiled plans to reconstruct them for perhaps the most important transportation reason: Safety.
Most notably is the planned reconstruction of Manufacturing Drive and Bluff Boulevard from U.S. 30 all the way to Seventh Avenue North, a project which has been slated to cost nearly $32 million. City engineering and public safety officials have applied for federal funding in the amount of $22.7 million, which would significantly reduce the city of Clinton’s financial burden.
The undertaking is confirmed to also receive $3 million from city funds, $3 million from the Iowa Department of Transportation, and $2.9 million from Iowa American Water.
The narrow lanes have caused crowding and hazardous driving conditions – an issue that leaders say will be alleviated by the future project. The project will also improve curb, gutter and sidewalk areas to make the road safer for pedestrians, as well as bicyclists. It will convert the street to a three-lane thoroughfare, and adjust several “skewed” intersections in its path. The portion of roadway has seen several automobile accidents in recent years, with many resulting in injuries, or even death.
It’s a landmark effort, City Engineer Jason Craft has said.
“This is probably the biggest project we’ll ever do, and we want to do it right,” Craft said at a community open house for the project in late June. “We want to get off on a good foot with all the affected property owners.”
A portion of the project is slated to begin in spring 2021, and if all goes according to plan after this round of grant applications, the entire project is estimated to take roughly three to four years.
This is the second time officials have applied for the federal funding, specifically the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant. The project was not selected after last year’s cycle of applications, leaving stakeholders to head back to the drawing board.
One of those factors leading to an unsuccessful first application could have surrounded the project’s Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA), according to Clinton City Administrator Matt Brooke. A BCA of greater than 1 is ideal, he said, and now stakeholders believe they’ve greatly surpassed that mark for this newest application, potentially as high as 1.86.
Upon the submission of the second grant application for the Manufacturing Drive and Bluff Boulevard reconstruction project, Brooke said the involved group’s ferocity this time around could play into a potential successful grant selection – a selection they could learn of this winter.
“We’d really like to see this project go through,” Brooke said in June. “We want to get the best outcome with this. We’re very hopeful...we think we’re going to be very strong. We’re going to hit every one of our senators, every one of our Congress members and say ‘Hey, help us out,’ because that’s where the rubber meets the road at the end of the day on what gets decided.”
Another aggressive project on the minds of local engineering and transportation officials is one focusing on reducing 13th Avenue North from four lanes to three lanes, including a center turn lane from North Fourth Street to 16th Street Northwest, and reconstructing the intersection at Springdale Drive and 13th Avenue North.
Another safety-oriented project, Craft has pointed to the success of three previous four-lane to three-lane roadway projects in Clinton as another catalyst for this most recent plan and grant application. Accident rates have been reduced by as much as 50 percent, Craft said. The clearly defined left-turn lane in the center of the roadway is the reason for fewer accidents, he added.
The application for this project would be to the Iowa Department of Transportation.
“Every year we try to make an application to the Traffic Safety Board with the Iowa Department of Transportation,” Craft told Clinton City Council members in mid-August. “We’re always successful...we try to pick the projects that are going to make the most difference, which will rank highly.
“We know it’s going to be a success,” Craft followed up. The project could begin late next year, or potentially some time in 2021.