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Long-awaited 120th street reconstruction begins in Shueyville

SHUEYVILLE– Residents of this northwest Johnson County community, and commuters passing through, will soon become accustomed to the sight of orange barriers, detour signs and heavy machinery.
The long-discussed, long-awaited and much anticipated rebuilding of 120th Street is on.
Work began Monday, April 9, starting with storm sewer excavation and rebuilding the Curtis Bridge Road/Club Road intersection. One-hundred-five construction days have been scheduled for the complete project, not counting weekends or holidays. While the roadwork itself should be complete in August, trail, sidewalk and landscaping should be wrapped-up by November.
Approximately 80 area residents packed into the gym at the Shueyville Community Center for a public meeting Thursday, April 5, to get the latest word. Representatives from prime contractor Metro Pavers, Inc. of Iowa City and Veenstra & Kimm, Inc. of Coralville (project management and inspection) were on-hand with city council members to answer questions and ease last-minute concerns.
Once again, large aerial photos of the 120th Street corridor were rolled out onto tables with graphics overlaid to show the scope of the work. “Save bush.” “Save tree.” “New septic, no heavy equipment.” Tags such as these, among others, covered the photos and revealed this is more than just moving some dirt and laying down some concrete. The complete project document was also available for review, standing a good inch-and-a-half thick, and spelling out thousands of details related to the effort.
The work has been broken up into 16 phases; only the section being worked on will be closed in an effort to minimize traffic disruptions. However, residents and commuters using the heavily-traveled road will need to plan ahead, slow down and adapt to changes in their normal traffic flow.
Eastbound traffic will be maintained throughout the project from Interstate 380 to the Club Road/Curtis Bridge Road intersection, in one lane. Westbound traffic will be limited, creating what Mayor Bryan Bredman called a big challenge.
“There are no alternate routes available,” he said. “You can always get in (to Shueyville), but getting out will be a challenge.” During early phases of the project, westbound traffic will detour through residential neighborhoods along Water and Council Streets. Once work progresses from Steeple Lane to the west, travelers will have to take Club Road north to roads such as Wright Brothers Blvd. in Linn County. However, Linn County has also planned work on Club Road and Wright Brothers. It is hoped the projects can be coordinated to maintain traffic flow.
Bredman urged caution on the detour routes, particular in town. Residents asked for a lower speed limit (currently 25 mph) for the duration of the project. Bredman said it would require action by the city council which would take considerable time. Instead, he urged people to slow down and reminded the audience that the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department would be increasing its presence.
“There’s only so much we can do, but we’ll do everything we can to slow people down,” Bredman said. If somebody is inclined to speed, they will do so regardless of what a sign says. “Put up another sign, they’ll drive by it,” he said.
Regarding signs, several local business owners asked about amending the city’s sign ordinance so they could put up temporary signs to alert people they are still open and accessible. Bredman and the construction representatives stressed access will be maintained at all times to Shueyville’s businesses. Some, such as those on Curtis Bridge Road, will have their driveway temporarily reduced, but they will remain accessible.
Throughout the project, some residents will lose the use of their driveways for a few days.
“Driveways are always a bit of a challenge,” said Dave Schechinger of Veenstra & Kimm. “There’s the tear-out, placing temporary gravel, actual paving and cure time.” Schechinger suggested those affected make arrangements with their neighbors.
As the project progresses westward, detours will be adjusted accordingly and residents will be notified of direct impacts to them. The field engineer will be based out of the Shueyville Community Center, and available for questions and concerns, and a website (120threconstruction.com) has been established which will have the latest construction information. The Johnson County Secondary Roads department will also have the information posted on their website under “Road Construction.”
“Plan ahead. Leave early in the mornings, especially the first few weeks or so until people get used to the detours,” Bredman said. “It’s going to be a huge inconvenience, but well worth it.”