University Avenue study suggests big changes - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

University Avenue study suggests big changes

CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- The cities of Cedar Falls and Waterloo are hoping to make University Avenue smoother for you to drive on.  So the communities have teamed up with the state to study the busy road.

Fewer lanes and adding more roundabouts are the key changes included in the initial study recommendations.  An existing roundabout at Viking Road and Cedar Heights Drive has been in place for a few years now.  And city leaders say it has not caused more accidents or confusion for drivers-- making it an example of why more roundabouts might help improve traffic flow on one of the Cedar Valley's busiest streets.

"University Avenue is basically a road, that if you drive it, that definitely needs to be repaired, replaced.  And that's the idea, reconstruction.  They've been putting some band-aids on it in resurfacing different parts," said Cedar Falls Mayor Jon Crews.

That's just why Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and the state have committed money to studying the busy thoroughfare.  And now the initial recommendations have been released and include suggestions for some big changes.

"The traffic has gone down somewhat, so the need is not for 6 lanes, they definitely think 4 lanes with some additional turn lanes would be enough to handle it with less costs to keep it maintained," Crews said.

In addition to reducing the number of lanes on University from six down to four, the study also suggest it might make the road better to add several roundabouts at busy intersections, like at Holiday Road.  

A total of six roundabouts are included in the study's plan:  three in Cedar Falls, three in Waterloo.  They're changes that officials hope will make driving along University safer and smoother for everyone.

"It does reduce traffic.  It calms them.  And they say if you're going 35 miles an hour on University Avenue, the example is, they can go through roundabouts faster than if they're going 45 miles an hour but had to stop at stop lights," Crews said.

But making any changes will take some time.  Securing the estimated $40 million needed to reconstruct University will be the biggest hurdle.  If funding does become available, city leaders are hopeful that work could get underway as early as 2013.

All of the items included in this study are just suggestions right now.  An environmental study is the next phase.  Mayor Crews says any changes to University Avenue would likely be implemented slowly, in 5 separate stages.  And before any of the study's recommendations are finalized, more public input will be collected.

Online Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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