The Sioux Center City Council recently received notification that the 5-lane proposal has been placed on the Iowa Department of Transportation's 5-year plan. From as early as 1999, projections have indicated that a 5-lane highway would eventually be needed to effectively accomodate both local and pass-through traffic on Highway 75.
Recognizing that any changes to the highway would have far-reaching impacts throughout the community, in 2005 the council commissioned the Downtown Enhancement Committee to research and assess the needs and develop a plan for US 75 and the Sioux Center downtown area.
After working with traffic engineers and streetscape planners and presenting ideas and options for input from the community, the Downtown Enhancement Committee developed and presented four recommendations to the city council in Fall 2007:
1. Highway 75 be reconfigured into a five-lane to provide orderly movement of traffic through the community in a timely manner.2.The entire highway project be done at one time to minimize disruption and expense.3.The city pursues opportunities to acquire properties suitable for off-street parking areas.4.The committee be authorized to continue working to develop plans and estimated costs for streetscape improvements.
The City Council directed city staff to pursue Iowa Department of Transportation approval and funding of the Highway 75 reconfiguration. From Spring 2008 to Spring 2012, city staff met with D.O.T. officials a number of times to propose the Highway 75 project be included in the state’s transportation budget. In August, 2012, the city was informed that the project had been placed on the State D.O.T. 5-year plan with an allocation of approx. $3.4 million.
Preliminary survey work has now been completed in preparation for the reconfiguration of US Highway 75 (Main Avenue) from N 9th Street to S 10th Street into 5 lanes -- two lanes each for north- and south-bound traffic and a turning lane. This is the first step in a 3 to 4 year process leading to a planned construction start date of Summer 2015.
In light of these developments, the Downtown Enhancement Committee began meeting again on August 22, 2012. With the survey and design work now underway, the committee will focus on the goal of ensuring the Highway 75 corridor remains inviting and attractive. To that end, the committee’s role will be to evaluate traffic and pedestrian movements, suggest areas for new parking, assist in the design and placement of streetscape and amenities, and maintain communication with the community, especially those whose businesses or residential properties will be most affected.
Recognizing that a lot of time has passed, the committee considers this an opportunity to begin again with a fresh look at the possibilities and options for the entire Highway 75 corridor. With new and updated information from the engineers and planners, the committee is reconsidering the possibility of retaining parking along the highway in the downtown area, the development of additional parking areas, the relocation and/or addition of downtown stoplights, and many other highway and streetscape-related issues. In addition, the committee intends to address the concerns of businesses and residential properties along the highway outside the downtown area.
Moreover, the committee is seeking input and comment from the community, and looking for creative and effective ways to maintain open lines of communication throughout the planning and design phases of the project.
Interested persons with questions, ideas, comments and/or concerns should feel free to contact any committee member with the assurance that their input will be received and discussed by the committee. Committee members include:Stan Speer, Chairman (American State Bank)Ron Van Den Berg (Furniture Mart)Dr. Paul Beaver (Optometrist)Jennifer Jansen (Beyer Realty)Kevin Schmidt (Tuckets)Ardith Lein (Chamber of Commerce)Dean Gabhart (Centre Mall)Dennis Walstra (mayor)Paul Clousing (city manager)Dennis Dokter (Assistant City Manager)