CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- For supporters of a western bypass in Cedar Rapids, this was a day many years in the making.
A ceremony Tuesday marked the official recognition of the start of Highway 100 construction. The 7.5 mile road stretches from where the highway now ends at Edgewood Road all the way to Highway 30.
The $200-million dollar beltway will open to traffic in phases. The first connection between Edgewood Road and Covington Road is set to open in late 2018. The final segment from Covington Road to Highway 30 is slated to open in 2020.
Scott Olson, a Cedar Rapids City Council member and commercial realtor, said when finished the Highway 100 extension will change Cedar Rapids as much as anything in recent years.
The first actual construction work started weeks ago, but Tuesday was the time set for Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) director Paul Trombino and other dignitaries to mark the official start of the six-year project. Grading is underway all the way from Edgewood Road to the Cedar River on the first phase. It will take a couple of years to move the dirt before paving begins.
But Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said once the bypass is even partially open, good things economically will begin to happen.
“It’ll mean more jobs, more homes, more businesses, more people — growth in the school district and our tax base,” the mayor predicted.
Council member Olson noted that the 73 square mile foot print of the city of Cedar Rapids could grow to 100 square miles once the new exits on Highway 100 open.
“Eventually most of that will be annexed into the city so I think it will be the growth area for the next two decades for the city of Cedar Rapids,” Olson said.
It took years longer than expected to get Highway 100 on the DOT’s five year plan. But director Trombino said persistence from local supporters kept the project alive during the difficult days leading up to funding.
“Long term, I think community support was really the difference. You see that in a lot of different areas. It’s something the (DOT) commission relies on. They want to see the community say yes this is what we want done,” Trombino said.
The DOT director said despite years of delays, Highway 100 supporters are fortunate. This is a six-year project and with highway funding, such as the state’s gas tax, not keeping pace getting new long term highway projects approved in the future won’t be easy.
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