The design for Highway 75 and the planned construction process for the project are centered on safety and function, as well as aesthetics that showcase Sioux Center’s character.
Project staging and streetscape design were the focus of a Highway 75 update at the City Council meeting on Monday.
Trent Bruce, of DGR Engineering, shared the proposed staging for the multi-year reconstruction of Highway 75. He said they currently anticipate three stages, starting in late 2023 through the end of 2025.
The engineers are planning for two-way traffic to continue through most of the project, with a few periods of full detours during replacement of deep sewer lines. Two-way traffic for most of each stage will be made possible by first constructing the east or west side, then the other side.
Most construction would pause during the winter months, and the contractor would work to allow for through traffic during those months.
“We’ll be working with property owners on access during these times, how to maintain feasibility to get to properties, looking at vehicle and pedestrian access, including for businesses,” Bruce said. “There will be some inconveniences throughout the project, but we’ll try to accommodate to the best we can with all of the property owners during each particular phase.”
Communication efforts are being planned to equip users and neighbors of the roadway throughout construction, including residents, travelers, property owners, commuters, and pedestrians.
Streetscape design to enhance safety and create a Sioux Center welcome is planned along the 2.5-mile project, which serves as the community’s main street. Preliminary streetscape concepts include well-marked pedestrian crosswalks, landscaped medians with trees, cut stone accents, wayfinding signs, and some colored concrete.
Jon Jacobson, of Confluence, presented the concepts at Monday’s meeting.
“Guided by community feedback, we incorporated pedestrian safety elements and traffic calming features,” Jacobson said. “This roadway is not just a highway, and the streetscape improvements are also about explaining what the community of Sioux Center is about, a progressive and growing place.”
Some elements, like landscaping in wider medians, colored concrete accents, cut stone pieces, and tree plantings where possible, are proposed along the entire length of the project, from about 20th St. SE to 12th St. NE. They are designed to provide a traffic calming effect for travelers. Rapid-flashing beacons are also planned for 10 pedestrian crossings along the project.
Sioux Center’s downtown could be highlighted with added features, like colored concrete in pedestrian crosswalks. Bump-outs are planned for several downtown corners, which can add to pedestrian safety and give an opportunity to add plants and other features. At the north and south ends of the downtown, the City is considering elements like slightly raised planters in medians to help set the tone.
The City is able to guide the streetscape planning because the Highway 75 reconstruction is a shared project between the City and the Iowa Department of Transportation. Streetscape elements must be approved by the DOT before they can be included in the project, Bruce noted.
Currently, the DOT is working on appraisals for parts of property the DOT needs to purchase from property owners for right of way or use temporarily or permanently for easements. The project is currently slated to go to bid in spring of 2023.
The 2.5-mile Highway 75 reconstruction project stretches nearly end-to-end in Sioux Center. It will replace the deteriorating pavement and rebuild the roadway in a safety-based design to better serve the community now and for decades to come.