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City News

Posted on: March 31, 2021

Council asks for Medians, Parking in Downtown Highway Design

Overhead concept image of downtown street

Community feedback continues to shape the redesign of Highway 75. The Sioux Center City Council incorporated both public input to prioritize safety and downtown property owner input to keep on-street eastside parking into a recent decision on downtown design. The council voted to pursue a design that incorporated both east-side on-street parking and wider medians for several blocks downtown.

The design team had been deliberating between two options for downtown. In these blocks, width is limited by buildings on either side. Constrained by this width, the two design options were to either maintain eastside parking or remove that parking to create a median that would help calm traffic and provide some shelter for pedestrian crossings at intersections. 

With ongoing input from several downtown property owners asking the city to keep east-side parking, council members asked for a third design that would take several feet from the sidewalk on the east and west side and use that space for a wider median in a plan that also maintains some east-side parking. Reviewing this and the two previous options, they voted to ask engineers to craft a design with both parking and medians, if possible.

“Based on feedback from our citizens, my priorities have been safety first, followed by efficient/proper design, business owner considerations, and aesthetics,” Councilman Eric Moerman said. “I felt like this proposed solution did not compromise safety. It provided a good design, parking for our business owners customers, and room for aesthetic features. It’s not the design we started with, but this is why we get feedback. Because of that feedback we have a workable solution for the priorities laid out that I believe we can be proud of.”

Council Receives Streetscape Recommendations

Community feedback was also central in the streetscape recommendation shared by Jon Jacobson, of Confluence, at the same city council meeting. He said that residents and a local streetscape committee indicated that streetscape is an important part of design, centering on safety and Sioux Center’s identity. His recommendation laid out elements for each section of the highway that carry a unified theme and reflect public feedback, including medians with pedestrian safe havens where possible, clearly identified crosswalks, landscaping and street tree plantings, options for pedestrian-scale lighting, stone elements, and signs. 

“Now we can really begin to work on the details, working with the DOT and explaining to them what the community’s feedback was and what our objectives are,” Jacobson said. 

These details will help determine which elements will be included in the highway reconstruction and in possible future projects after construction. 

“We continue to focus on being both stewardly and making this a project that reflects Sioux Center,” Utilities Manager Murray Hulstein said.

Community information meeting planned

Trent Bruce, of DGR Engineering, said the design team will use the council’s direction as they continue preliminary design, which is nearing completion. 

A public information meeting is set for Tuesday, April 20, from 5-7 p.m. at Terrace View Event Center for the community to review the preliminary design and share feedback. The city will submit the preliminary design to the Iowa Department of Transportation for their review.

Highway 75 construction is slated for 2023 and 2024, with anticipated completion in 2025. 

Image: A concept showing both parking and medians in downtown Sioux Center. View this concept in a larger file.

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