Early winter weather forces Iowa DOT to halt work on Highway 52 project

The Iowa DOT constructed this roundabout at Holy Cross Road and Highway 52. (Charlie Grant, KCRG)
The Iowa DOT constructed this roundabout at Holy Cross Road and Highway 52. (Charlie Grant, KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Nov. 15, 2019 at 4:38 PM CST
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A road project in Dubuque County has come to a screeching halt due to the recent cold weather and snowfall.

The Iowa Department of Transportation is on its first of four phases of improving Highway 52 between Sageville and Luxemburg. This summer, it constructed a roundabout at the intersection of Holy Cross Road and Highway 52 and began to pave the highway from that intersection to Rickardsville. However, crews weren't able to finish paving on 52 before the ground froze.

At the corner of Holy Cross Road and Highway 52 is Mike Steffen's auto body shop. He's been here for 30 years, but the last few months have been trying.

"Our business has been good. Everybody is seeming to find us fine but it's been tough getting through," he said.

As the Iowa DOT worked and closed roads, he had to navigate the detours.

Steffen said, "I had to drive all the way around sometimes. Took me 20 to 25 minutes to get around and I only live like one minute from work."

People just passing by were often confused.

"Everybody was going past the signs and ending up right here and having to back up and turn around," he said.

Unfortunately, the confusion will continue. Hugh Holak, Iowa DOT Construction Engineer, said this project was supposed to be finished by the end of October. Many factors put the crew behind schedule.

We had a lot of weather delays," he explained. "Spring was wet, and then we had a couple of months of really nice weather in the middle of the summer and then the fall was kind of wet again.”

And then the ground froze.

"If we would've had about another two weeks of temperatures above freezing, we would've at least had the 24-foot of the driving lanes complete," Holak said.

Only local traffic is allowed to travel on the portion between Rickardsville and Holy Cross Road. Holak warns drivers to be careful.

He said, "there is no shoulder. That will be placed here in the next week or two, but currently, the snow hides the edge of the pavement drop-off and if you slip off you're going to be stuck there."

With Mother Nature in control, all everyone can do is hang on for spring.

"We'll just make do I guess," Steffen said. "We've been making do all summer."