Street reconstruction projects to run through October


Ed Bornstein/The Daily Iowan A growing Iowa City skyline stands against a muggy afternoon sky on Monday, July 17, 2006. A story released Monday in Money Magazine ranked the city No. 74 on its “Best Places to Live” list out of an original pool of nearly 750.

It might not look pretty, but downtown Iowa City will still be accessible this summer.

The Washington Reconstruction Process will stretch from Clinton to Linn Street and will reconstruct streets while replacing utilities underground and improving the condition of sidewalks. The construction will begin April 11 and has a end date of around October, officials hope.

Interim City Manager Geoff Fruin said the city adopted a master plan in 2014 after a comprehensive study of the area was undertaken when a water main broke on Washington Street that caused significant flooding in a number of private properties.

If a hole or crack develops in the main, the water will typically find its way to the surface. Because the water main is under pressure, water will continue to flow until the break is repaired.

“The condition of that main is driving the need to reconstruct these streets,” Fruin said. “Instead of replacing the main at the time of the break, we wanted to make sure we had our plans in place so when we put it back in place, it was well thought out and planned in a manner that will serve the community for a few decades.”

Fruin said Iowa City community members will benefit through improved traffic flow, wider sidewalks, enhanced electrical systems that will aid in providing support during festivals, and more festive lighting opportunities during the holiday season.

“There will be enhanced spaces for outdoor cafés, improved seating areas, and generally better infrastructure to serve the community,” he said.

Fruin said the city’s priority is to get the project done as soon as possible because businesses along Clinton and Linn Streets will be better off.

“There’s no question the project will be disruptive,” he said. “We plan to move as expeditiously as we can.”

Betsy Potter, the operations director at the Iowa City Downtown District, said its mission is to support local businesses during the construction and to let Iowa City community members know that these businesses will be open during the reconstruction.

“There’s no reason to change your shopping patterns or dining patterns because there are good things coming,” she said.

Potter said they have a multifaceted marketing plan to get the word out that these business are still open and that positive things are coming.

“A part of our marketing plan is a public-art project which will be intermingled in the construction fencing,” she said. “Community members will be encouraged to tie a ribbon onto the fencing of the construction to create a large interactive art project,” she said.

Nancy Bird, the executive director of the Downtown District, said this summer will be one of the busiest in Iowa City.

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