NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG) - A new interchange along Interstate 380 in southern Johnson County is spurring growth in at least two nearby cities, according to local officials.
Cars move along Forevergreen Road in Johnson County on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. Nearby communities hope the easier access to Interstate 380 provided by the new interchange with that road will spur further development (Marlon Hall/KCRG)
The Forevergreen Road exit opened in November, located near mile marker 2 along Interstate 380. It provides access to the south side of North Liberty, north side of Coralville, and the northeast side of Tiffin.
Already, city leaders in Coralville and Tiffin have seen commercial and residential developers who are interested in starting more construction.
The town of Tiffin has seen new homes pop up at a steady rate. And as fast as those rooftops are built, people move in. Mayor Steve Berner expected growth but admits this rate is shocking. Just 500 people lived in town when he moved to Tiffin in the late 1990s. In 2010, the population was just about 2,000. And by next year, the city expects to top 4,000.
Berner said it's due to the convenient location to the Iowa City metropolitan area.
“It's extremely important to get connected to [Interstate] 380 because most of our growth is above Highway 6 now,” Berner said.
Forevergreen Road provides that connection. Previously, a person would need to get on Interstate 80, either at Coral Ridge Avenue or south of Tiffin, and then head toward the interchange with Interstate 380. With the new, easier access, the city wants more commercial developments.
"We think we have enough rooftops to provide employees to businesses,” Berner said.
New residents mean a potential need for new schools.
"We've had some discussions with the Clear Creek Amana School District about building a new elementary school in that area,” John Lundell, Coralville Mayor, said.
The land near Forevergreen Road in Coralville is known as the "West Land Use Area." There are plans for the construction of a new multi-family home development to start by the end of the year.
Berner said that the plan allows Tiffin to keep its small-town charm. Something he doesn't want to see go away, despite the growth.
"We think Tiffin is a great place for that," Berner said.