Years of construction on horizon for US 75 travelers

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
(Photo Contributed) This image depicts US Highway 75 through Hinton. The blue area are the northbound lanes that are a part of a 4.8 mile stretch of reconstruction that will occur in the spring of 2018. The roadwork will go on simultaneously along with the reconstruction project of US 75 northbound lanes between County Road C-38 and Merrill.

PLYMOUTH CO. — Officials with the Iowa Department of Transportation Sioux City office were on hand at Tuesday’s Plymouth County Board of Supervisors meeting to give an update on the 2018 US Highway 75 project.

Dakin Schultz, transportation planner for District 3 and Shane Tymkowicz, assistant district engineer, addressed the preliminary northbound lane project from County Road C-80 to the south side of Hinton.

“The project is scheduled for next year’s construction season. We’re looking at a contract letting in February of 2018,” Schultz reported.

The removal and replacement of concrete will involve 4.8 miles and is estimated to cost around $9.7 million.

“What we are proposing is to do some work on those northbound lanes, completely reconstructed similar to what you are seeing now from Merrill to C-38,” Schultz said. “We will move traffic over to the southbound lanes with one lane in each direction.”

At James, Schultz said plans call for full access at the intersection of County Road C-70 and Main Street.

“What that means is every intersection on either side of that is what we call a right in and right out. So, if you come out on Plymouth Street in James and you want to go to Hinton you are going to have to head south and then turn around and go back north,” Schultz explained.

Tymkowicz said it is also being proposed to reconstruct the C-70 approach to the railroad crossings.

“We have the opportunity to get some railroad funds to redo the railroad crossings at that location. In verbal conversations with Tom (Rohe, Plymouth County Engineer), it sounds like the county would be interested in doing that,” Tymkowicz said. “The county would be responsible for the crossing that’s on the east side of it as far as a new approach but we’ll help both parties, the state and the county, by being able to leverage those railroad funds for that crossing at the same time.”

Tymkowicz noted when it comes time for the railroad crossing improvements, C-70 would be closed for a short time to allow for work to be completed.

As construction approaches closer to Hinton, Schultz said there would be full access at Orbit Drive, however the remaining intersections to the south would also become right in and right out only.

“Reconstruction will stop just south of the fire station. In that transition, we will take the traffic and transition it out further to the north,” Schultz said. “The traffic will be back to normal before Main Street so everybody will be operating in their own lanes before they get back up to Main Street.”

When questioned by Supervisor Craig Anderson if there were any plans in this phase to adjust elevation, Tymkowicz said no.

“The railroad controls us getting the railroad right of way through there. The intent is when we get north of Hinton between Hinton and Merrill we will raise the roadway because we don’t have the railroad adjacent to us,” Tymkowicz said.

While no plans for the southbound lanes are in the plans yet, Schultz confirmed the northbound lanes between Hinton and Merrill are in the Iowa DOT program for 2022.

“We’d like to do the southbound before we start that. That would be our hope but it depends on funding of course. We’re beholden to the commission on what they ultimately decide on where the revenue will go,” he said.

With plans for reconstruction of US Hwy 75 on either side of Hinton, Schultz said a lack of interest from the City of Hinton will result in no changes being made through their downtown.

“We approached the City of Hinton about doing some work through there, they have not shown an interest in any work through there,” Schultz said. “So our plan is to gap Hinton. It will be about 1,500 to 1,600 feet that won’t be completed with this.

“All their concerns were regarding the potential impact to the business and the property owners in Hinton. In that area the railroad tracks are very close to the roadway and in order to do what needs to be done, and in that case it would be similar to a project like we did in Merrill in 2014, is either a five lane through or at least address the Main Street area with turn lanes,” Schultz continued.

And if city officials would have a change of mind?

“They can always come back to us. Honestly, we’ve told them now would be the time to do it while there’s a focus. If we get this completed and walk away from it, it’s more difficult to try and find the funding for it because the focus has left the corridor,” Schultz said.

According to Schultz, 16,000 vehicles pass through Hinton every day.

“It is one of the corridors in the state that we have not seen a decrease in traffic,” he concluded.

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