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Sewer bid, site plan for new school approved

High school will accommodate 1,000 students to start in 2017

NORTH LIBERTY– The school is taking shape, and the North Liberty City Council is all in.
At the council’s Feb. 23 meeting, Vitas Bering with SVPA Architects in West Des Moines, representing the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD), presented the 70-acre site plan for the new high school that will be built near the intersection of North Liberty Road and Dubuque Street.
The construction will be completed in three phases, with the first two being built right away and an expansion of the school to be done when required. The school will initially be designed for 1,000 students, with infrastructure to accommodate 1,500 as the school’s enrollment increases. Phase two will include the school’s athletic complex consisting of baseball, football, soccer fields and associated parking. The third phase will be a classroom wing at the east side of the building, to be added in the future.
Also presenting information was Kelly Beckler of MMS Consultants, the civil engineering firm partnering on the project.
North Liberty councilor Annie Pollock asked Beckler if the building would be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, a designation offered by the Green Building Certification Institute when buildings are constructed within certain energy-efficient standards. ICCSD’s Van Allen Elementary School in North Liberty was the first school in Iowa to obtain LEED certification at the silver level, and neighboring North Central Junior High and Tate High School were built to similar standards. However, LEED certification is an expensive and rigorous process, and will not be pursued for this building.
“That was a district decision,” Beckler said. “We’ll have sustainable practices and sustainable design. We went through an energy model so a lot of the design functions that go along with LEED will be incorporated into the building, but the actual cost of certifying the project was not.”
The Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County (MPOJC) conducted two traffic studies on the road, according to North Liberty City Planner Dean Wheatley.
“(We want) to make sure that Dubuque Street and North Liberty Road are improved to meet the demands of the anticipated traffic here, as well as anticipated future traffic in the metro area,” Wheatley said. “It’s been well–researched and documented and planned for.”
MPOJC’s most recent traffic study report completed in January shows the school site’s main entrance would be on North Liberty Road, currently gravel to the north of its intersection with Dubuque Street. North Liberty Road’s traffic volumes last May were 538 vehicles per day north of that intersection, while traffic counts to the south of that intersection averaged 3,385 vehicles per day. Dubuque Street traffic just east of the intersection averages 5,235 vehicles per day, and volumes to the west were 8,049 vehicles per day. Only two collisions were recorded at the intersection between 2009 and 2012.
The study concluded that no turn lanes are warranted near the school’s entrance on North Liberty Road, but an eastbound, left turn lane should be added on Dubuque Street where the school’s main entrance will be located. In addition, a four-way stop at the Dubuque Street/North Liberty Road intersection is warranted as a temporary traffic control measure, and the report recommends either a traffic control signal or a roundabout be considered for the intersection before the school opens. More analysis needs to be conducted to know if a single-lane or two-lane roundabout would be more efficient.
Finally, the study stated that paving the gravel portion of North Liberty Road in its entirety would be beneficial, given the increased traffic volume the school will bring.
The council did not discuss the traffic report or road conditions near the school, but did approve a bid to install sewer and water infrastructure to serve the school and other anticipated east side development.
The city received five bids for the infrastructure project, which consists of 2.6 miles of 12-inch water main, 1.4 miles of 30-inch sanitary sewer pipe, .4 miles of 18-inch sanitary sewer line and .3 miles of sanitary sewer pipe that runs between 8 inches and 15 inches, in addition to a sewer pumping station. Langman Construction of Rock Island submitted the lowest bid of $4,864,867, about $348,000 lower than the estimate of $5.2 million.
The 209,700 square foot school building is expected to open to students in fall 2017, including its 2,000-seat gymnasium. Phases two and three include a 3,500-seat football stadium, as well as baseball, softball and soccer fields, a general practice field and a set of outdoor tennis courts. A field designated for future community use is also designated on the site plan.
The school will pay hookup fees to connect to the city’s water and sewer system, based on a formula calculated using project cost and size.
The council passed the site plan with little discussion. Work on the related infrastructure projects is slated to begin right away, according to the Langman firm.