Dubuque neighbors fed up with construction-detour traffic - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque neighbors fed up with construction-detour traffic

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

People in one Dubuque neighborhood are getting fed up with the traffic a nearby road construction project is causing on their residential streets.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has closed the southbound lanes of a combined portion of U.S. Highways 151, 61 and 52, and that's causing some drivers to take an unauthorized detour.

The residential and commercial area of Rockdale Road, Southern Avenue and other side streets has gotten a lot busier since the construction project started in April.

Mark Willis' auto body shop sits right on the portion of Rockdale Road people are using to avoid the construction project.

"The traffic has just been nonstop. At 7:30 in the morning they're backed up past the shop from all the way down there," Willis said, gesturing to a stop sign a block away, adding the backup is even longer in the evening rush hour.

He opened his auto body shop there in 1985 and said this is the busiest he's ever seen Rockdale Road.

He said he worries the traffic may hurt his business, which is still very much open through all of this.

"People are so nervous about trying to pull off [the road], you know, and not get back on," he said.

His mother lives next to the shop, so he's concerned for safety's sake, too, especially since crossing the street to get the mail means looking both ways - again and again and again.

"The biggest thing is slow down," Willis said. "Once they get down to the stop sign, they come flying up through here."

In April, the Iowa DOT closed the southbound lanes of US Highways 151, 61 and 52 between South Grandview Avenue and the Twin Valley Road intersection as part of its two-year road and bridge re-construction project.

The DOT has not designated an official detour for non-emergency vehicles. The project's lead Iowa DOT engineer Hugh Holak said the department is asking drivers to stay on the now-two-lane road that used to be the northbound lanes.

"I'd recommend that thru traffic, especially truck traffic, would remain on the designated route to avoid congestion of the residents that do take Rockdale Road because they live in the area," he said.

One problem likely boosting traffic flow on these residential roads, Holak said, is that the lane designated for southbound traffic is rife with potholes. In response, the DOT is closing that lane for up to three nights next week to fix the surface. Those overnight closures start Monday, May 13 at 8 p.m.

Neighbors say some of the worst overflow traffic is in the northbound lane of Southern Avenue. At Monday's regular Dubuque city council meeting, neighbors presented a petition with some 50 signatures, asking the council to block thru traffic on Southern Avenue's northbound lane. City public information officer Randy Gehl said city staff is currently reviewing the request.

The repairs on this stretch of highway that spans more than one mile is a two-year project. All four lanes of traffic will be back open to drivers in the winter, but in the spring of 2014, the DOT will close the northbound lanes of traffic to complete the project.

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