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Portion of First Avenue road construction nearing end, other sections last until Fall 2021

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 7:51 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - When traveling through one of Cedar Rapids' busiest roads, First Avenue, drivers run into a bit of slow down and lane closures.

It’s due to a multi-year, multi-million dollar project to improve the infrastructure along First Avenue on the east side of Cedar Rapids. Even after six years since work began, there is still more work to be done. Right now, the project is in what the city called “phase five” of road work, in between 28th and 34th Streets NE along First Avenue.

Work on phase five of the construction project makes the drive a little tricky in spots, but in the end, a city project manager said will be worth it.

“It really creates a safe experience for both the trail users and the roadway users,” Brenna Fall, capital improvement program manager with the city of Cedar Rapids said.

That’s because along with road work, the CEMAR Trail, which will connect Cedar Rapids to Marion, is part of the First Avenue plan, adding a trail underpass below First Ave near 29th Street.

“That’s what is great about having the tunnel under First Ave, you won’t have cyclist interacting with other cars on the busy street,” Brandon Whyte, with the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization, said.

Whyte, who specializes in multimodal transportation, said once complete, it may be quicker for cyclists to reach Marion using the trail.

“We are also replacing traffic signals and making intersection improvements, so turning movements will be much improved, we are hoping to have less congestion through the whole area,” Fall said.

This portion of First Avenue work comes in with an $8 million price tag. Fall said state and federal money covers about 70% of those costs. Some work in the section should be all done this fall, but other parts will extend into the fall of 2021.

“Thankfully, some of that work can happen over the winter, so the contractor can continue to work for a while, even when some of our other construction projects are starting to slow down,” Fall said.

Fall said once complete, this part of First Avenue should be clear, but a portion near downtown Cedar Rapids will be next.

For more information on the current phase of work along First Avenue, visit here.

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