Safety improvements eyed for Hwy. 58 corridor in Cedar Falls - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Safety improvements eyed for Hwy. 58 corridor in Cedar Falls

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

An accident injuring two during Tuesday's rush hour is just the latest in a string of crashes that have plagued Highway 58 for years.

Two people were injured in a three-car pileup along Highway 58 near Greenhill Road in Cedar Falls Tuesday during evening rush hour, with one person extricated from their car.

There's certainly a high volume of traffic along 58, and it's only picked up more the past few years with added residential and commercial developments in the area.

More cars means more crashes -- and in the past three years, they've averaged more than one per week.           

Megan Young is a UNI student and frequently drives down Highway 58 in Cedar Falls. She admitted having some near accidents herself along the busy stretch of road.

"Definitely," Young said. "It sometimes kind of makes me avoid driving on this road because it's kind of scary sometimes."

The city of Cedar Falls is also concerned about the number of crashes happening between Greenhill and Viking roads -- especially with two big new box stores about to open in the area.

"If you look at the fact that you're going to have Scheel's opening up out there, and you're going to have Menard's opening up out there, we're really concerned about that increase in traffic," said Cedar Falls Police Chief Jeff Olson.

The good news is there are improvements in the works to help alleviate traffic and make the roadway safer.

The Iowa DOT is in the early stages of conducting an extensive study of Hwy. 58. That study will help determine whether lowering the speed limit, adding extra turn lanes or building a highway overpass is the best option to improve safety. 

The City of Cedar Falls is also thinking ahead. It's planning to expand Prairie Parkway from the roundabout near the new Menard's store to Greenhill Road.

"We hope a lot of those people along Greenhill or Main, maybe some coming down Main, will choose this route (Prairie Parkway) as opposed to this (Hwy. 58/Greenhill)," Olson said. "It could take thousands of cars a day off of 58."

Both the extended roadway and possible improvements to the highway are welcome changes for drivers like Young. 

"I feel like it could be safer than what I drive on currently," she said.

The Cedar Falls City Council is expected to vote on moving forward with the Prairie Parkway expansion project at its meeting Monday.

If approved, the new road could be ready for drivers by the end of this year.

Police Chief Jeff Olson notes the addition of cable barriers along 58 several years ago did help dramatically reduce the number of crashes.

The installation of a new bike tunnel at Greenhill Road should also help by taking pedestrians and cyclists off the highway.

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