Council looks at corridor study

Friday, July 29, 2022

LE MARS — The Le Mars City Council on July 19 acknowledged receipt of the Business US 75 Corridor Study.

Snyder & Associates had completed the Business US 75 Corridor Study as requested by the City of Le Mars in May of 2020. The study was completed as part of Iowa’s Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP) which is managed by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT).

The study was requested because the city was interested in potential modifications to the 5-leg intersection of Business US 75 and 6th Street Southwest and 6th Avenue Southwest, as well as potential for corridor conversion from 4-lane to 3-lane, as well as a possible traffic signal at the south end of the corridor at 18th Street or 24th Street.

The results of the study are:

Business US 75 corridor:

• Reconfigure as a 3-lane corridor from 12th Street SW to the north end urban-to-rural median transition at 3rd Street NW. Estimate = $260,000-$440,000

Business US 75 & 6th St SW & 6th Ave SW Intersection:

• Modify west leg to close 6th Street SW to local traffic only between 7th Avenue SW and the alley West of Dairy Queen. Estimate = $70,000

Traffic Signal:

• Construct a traffic signal at 24th Street SW. Consider closing 18th Street SW intersection routing local traffic via Lincoln Avenue or Industrial Road to the traffic signal. Estimate = $300,000

City Administrator Jason Vacura said the agenda provided four aerial views of the roadway from the south to the north, while holding the complete 100 page study. At the meeting, Vacura said he had not had an opportunity to delve into the study.

“I’ve looked through it. These are simply recommendations,” he noted.

At the time the study was initiated, the Iowa DOT was interested in reducing their portion of Highway 75 from the intersection with Highway 3, down to three lanes also.

Council member Clark Goodchild asked about the cost, and if IDOT would pay for that portion.

“All that is needed at a minimum to change it from four lanes to three is just paint,” Vacura said.

He added that is why the estimate for the change has a range from $260,000 to $400,000.

“With their recommendations, we may need to do some additional work on a couple of intersections and that is why the cost could get up to $440,000,” he said.

He then shared some highlights from the study.

In 2007, when the stretch of roadway was still an IDOT road, traffic count was from 10,000 to 15,000 vehicles per day.

As of 2019, the most recent count, traffic is down to 6,000 to 9,000 vehicles a day, so traffic counts do not warrant four lanes.

A dedicated turn lane, rather than a four lane road, could eliminate a lot of rear end accidents involving vehicles waiting to make a left turn.

“With a dedicated turn lane, it gets that car out of the through traffic lane, so you’re reducing the rear-end accidents, and also trying to turn across two-lanes,” he said. “It happens even at the stop light, you have to pay attention to two lanes.”

Council member Mark Sturgeon said he liked the turn arrow stoplight at the KwikStar intersection, but admits he likes the four lane when he is behind a slow vehicle and wants to pass.

The conversation also included the intersection by Dairy Queen and Godfather’s, where it is recommended to close Sixth Street Southwest to local traffic.

“Have these businesses been asked about that?” Goodchild questioned.

Another noted truck traffic to Nor-Am at that intersection as well.

City administration recommended exploring the Traffic Safety Improvement Program (TSIP) and the Urban-State Traffic Engineering Program (U-STEP) as funding sources for implementing the recommendations after the Public Works Committee and the Public Safety Committee have had a chance to review the study.

The council unanimously passed a motion acknowledging receipt of the Business US 75 Corridor Study prepared by Snyder & Associates.

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