intersection, valley west court and manufacturing drive

The intersection of Manufacturing Drive and Valley West Court was to become a roundabout during a reconstruction project, but City Administrator Matt Brooke says those plans have changed.

CLINTON — Third time’s a charm, or so Clinton officials hope.

The City of Clinton has applied — for the third time — for a federal BUILD grant to help pay for reconstruction of Manufacturing Drive and Bluff Boulevard from U.S. 30 to Seventh Avenue North. City Administrator Matt Brooke hopes the city won’t be denied again.

This week, Brooke and Clinton Mayor Scott Maddasion spent about an hour online with staffers of U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst and U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack, asking for help in the selection process, Brooke said Tuesday.

The reconstruction of the four-mile stretch of road on Clinton’s west side will cost an estimated $33 million, Brooke said. The city has applied for $15 million from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant program. The remaining $18.5 million will be paid by the Iowa Department of Transportation ($3.9 million), Iowa American Water ($2.9 million) and the City of Clinton ($11.5 million).

“We’re going to do this no matter what, but it may take us 10 years to do it,” Brooke said. If the city can get federal dollars, it can whittle the time down to three years, he said.

The city is already buying properties needed for rights of way.

“We’ve been told by the federal DOT ... that we’ve been right in the top every year,” said Brooke.

Clinton has made changes to its application to increase the city’s chances of receiving the grant, Brooke said. It’s asking for less federal money (the city requested $22.7 last year, according to the Clinton Herald) and offering to spend more of its own.

“We feel like ... we’re going to be super-competitive,” Brooke said. “And, hopefully, we have enough to turn the tide this year.”

The city also applied for a CARES grant for $3 million, which would decrease the city’s portion to $8.5 million.

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was passed by Congress and signed into law in March to protect communities from the public health and economic impact of COVID-19.

The State of Iowa received $1.25 billion for CARES grants, said Brooke. About $64.3 million of that is for urban transportation and $42.8 million for rural transit.

“We saw an opportunity to be able to cut down the city’s cost,” Brooke said.

The city asked the Iowa Economic Development Authority if Clinton could use CARES money as part of the city’s matching funds for the BUILD grant. Officials wanted to make sure that receiving CARES funds would not affect the BUILD grant application, Brooke said.

The CARES grant will be used only for the Manufacturing Drive portion because it has the greatest number of jobs along the route. Bluff is more residential, Brooke said.

Starting from the south, at U.S. 30, Manufacturing Drive will become a three-lane road, Brooke said. A turn lane will alleviate congestion along the route, especially during shift changes at Nestle Purina.

Bridges will be widened and lifted to increase the flow area of the creek and keep it from backing up. Storm drains, curbs and gutters will be updated on the streets, Brooke said. The project will also make the route more environmentally sound and add paths for pedestrians.

“Basically it’s a complete overhaul,” Brooke said.

More than 100 businesses line the route, and more than 13,000 cars travel it daily. “We feel that this is the artery of Clinton.”

The city sees the project as a step to arresting and reversing Clinton’s population loss, Brooke said. “This is the next step to move us forward.”

Drive to Prosperity

In a 2018 video called Drive to Prosperity, the City of Clinton details the project.

Angled intersections will be straightened to reduce the likelihood of accidents. Federal Highway Administration studies show that that intersections with a skew of 45 degrees or more are at least 20% more likely to have a crash, the video says.

Manufacturing Drive and Bluff Boulevard have a collision rate four times the national average per vehicle, averaging a crash every five days. In the five years leading up to 2018, the route saw 365 crashes resulting in 102 injuries, six major injures, and two fatalities, including a fatal broadside crash at Manufacturing Drive and Third Avenue South, the video says.

Intersections without turning lanes on Manufacturing Drive contribute to rear-end crashes, the video says. According to the FHA, converting four-lane roads to three lanes may reduce traffic incidents by up to 47%.