Progress, but no end in sight for Dubuque's Southwest Arterial - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Progress, but no end in sight for Dubuque's Southwest Arterial

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More than 70 people attended a Southwest Arterial public information meeting Wednesday More than 70 people attended a Southwest Arterial public information meeting Wednesday

People following one long-awaited road project in Dubuque will have to wait a little longer.

The Southwest Arterial, a project more than 50 years in the making, is intended to improve traffic flow and shorten drive times for many people who live in and travel through Dubuque.

At a public information meeting Wednesday evening, the 75 people who attended got a project update from city and Iowa Department of Transportation officials.

The bad news? There's still no set completion date.

The good news, however, is that progress has been made and a solid chunk of the project's funding is secured.

Lifelong Dubuquer Larry Sloman used to live near what will eventually be one of the Southwest Arterial. The 75-year-old has been hearing about the project for decades.

"Since the 1960s," Sloman said. "Way back then, it was a dream that was envisioned by the local business people and such."

The Southwest Arterial is intended to provide a direct route through southwestern Dubuque, making it much quick to get from US Highway 20 to US Highways 151 and 61.

Sloman was one of dozens of people who attended the public information meeting Wednesday evening, held at the Dubuque County Emergency Responder Training Facility.

Dubuque's assistant city engineer Bob Schiesl presented to those who attended.

"The last time we had a public informational meeting was in January of 2010," Schiesl said, "There have been a lot of positive developments that have occurred since that time."

Those developments include an agreement between the city of Dubuque and Iowa Department of Transportation. Dubuque will pay for and complete the Southwest Arterial's final design, property acquisition and reconstruction of three roads impacted by the project. Those roads are North Cascade Road, whose reconstruction the city has completed, plus Military Road and English Mill Road, which the city hopes to start reconstructing this summer.

In exchange, the Iowa DOT will construct the actual Southwest Arterial, set to be a four-lane divided freeway, stretching just over six miles.

"It's getting closer," Schiesl said. "With the partnership of the Iowa DOT and the city and the funding that's now going to be in place, we're going to see it built."

Sloman remains cautiously hopeful.

"I'd like to see it in my lifetime," he said. "Whether that'll ever happen or not remains to be seen."

Unlike Dubuque's Northwest Arterial, Schiesl said, the Southwest Arterial will have no stoplights or at-grade intersections. Engineers hope that will significantly decrease truck traffic through downtown Dubuque.

As of the time of the meeting, Dubuque has acquired 26 of the 52 properties it needs in order to build the Southwest Arterial.

The city's end of the agreement with the Iowa DOT is projected to cost $40 million, which Schiesl said the city and county collectively have secured.

"The city and the county are both committed to advancing the project and completing as much as we can with the $40 million that we have currently available for the project," Schiesl said.

He said if the full $135 million is too difficult to secure, between local, state and federal sources, the city is prepared to open the Southwest Arterial as a two-lane highway, with plans to complete it once full funding is available. The scaled-back plan would cost $117 million instead of the full $135 million, Schiesl said.

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