Heavy road construction in Dubuque impacting traffic, businesses - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Heavy road construction in Dubuque impacting traffic, businesses

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The second consecutive summer of a major road construction project in Dubuque is frustrating drivers and impacting some surrounding businesses.

The work is happening along the combined stretch of U.S. Highways 151/61/52 in Dubuque, between the South Grandview Avenue overpass and Twin Valley Drive intersection.

This stretch of just over a mile sees tens of thousands of eastern Iowa drives, including people traveling from Cedar Rapids or the Quad Cities into Dubuque and beyond.

Last summer, the Iowa Department of Transportation rebuilt the westbound lanes. This summer, it's working on the eastbound lanes. Traffic both summers was reduced to one lane in either direction.

As manager of transportation company Dubuque Thermo King, Rick Krueger and his truck drivers know the construction-laden stretch of highway very well.

"Yes, we drive the road every day. We're on it with 18-wheelers all day long, back and forth, so it's been pretty congested the last few years," Krueger said. "It's getting old. Sometimes the traffic backs up all the way to our facility, which is a mile down the road."

Traffic flows relatively swiftly at certain times of the day, but drivers say vehicles can be backed up nearly a mile during morning and afternoon rush hours.

Some area businesses are seeing impacts from the construction.

Raj Patel is manager of the nearby Econo Lodge and said occupancy rates have dropped 10 percent during the construction months in the last two to three years.

Kevin Weber is manager of the nearby Dupaco branch. He said it's been business-as-usual during construction, but customers and employees alike have talked about the work impacting their commutes.

"I've heard some people say, you know, it's a half hour to travel, you know, maybe a mile," said Weber, who lives on the west end of Dubuque, adding, "I haven't personally experienced that."

Drivers say while this year's traffic doesn't seem as bad as last year's, they do look forward to the project's completion.

"It'll just be a nice improvement when it's all done," Krueger said. "It'll be a real asset to the city and for the transportation in and out of Dubuque."

Hugh Holak is with the Iowa Department of Transportation and is the project's manager. He said the entire project should wrap up by mid-November.

Drivers in the tri-state area will soon face another road block. The Julien Dubuque/U.S. Highway 20 bridge into Illinois will close for 10 days starting on Monday.

Holak said drivers will be re-routed into Wisconsin, adding an additional five miles to the commute. He encouraged drivers during those 10 days to add 20 to 30 minutes to their commute and asked for the public's patience. He said the contractor doing the work will face penalties if it's not done in 10 calendar days.

The Julien Dubuque bridge will close at 6 a.m. Monday.

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