Dubuque converting one-way streets to two-way - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque converting one-way streets to two-way

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Starting Monday, drivers on several roads in downtown Dubuque will have to look both ways before crossing the street - something they haven't had to do for decades on those particular thoroughfares.

Dubuque's engineers are converting Ninth, Tenth, 11th and Pine streets from one-way roads to two-way traffic. The changes will go into effect Monday, but as a sort of transition this week, the city is blocking off the left lane of each one-way street to get drivers used to staying in the right lane.

Large flashing signs went up this week, alerting drivers of the impending changes.

Zeke McCartney lives and works in downtown Dubuque and drives the one-ways daily.

"It's definitely going to be a change for the people living in Dubuque," McCartney said. "Everyone's used to coming down both lanes here and turning left...but I think if enough signs are up, it shouldn't take too long to get used to."

Dubuque police Lt. Scott Baxter said while the city has done a lot of work to warn people of the changes, the department anticipates the possibility of some accidents, especially with drivers not used to oncoming traffic in both directions.

TJ Kalmes manages Kalmes Breaktime Grill & Spirits along East 11th Street, one of the roads that will soon become a two-way. The restaurant has been in that location for 18 years, Kalmes said, and he's looking forward to the extra flow of traffic.

"Ultimately, it's going to be a lot better," Kalmes said of the changes. "When we get two-way here, it's going to be easier for people to get to our location. Right now it's a run-around for them to get here because it's all one-ways to get here."

Dan LoBianco is executive director of Dubuque Main Street, an organization that advocates for downtown businesses. He has long supported the two-way changes.

"The national one-way/two-way conversation always talks about a couple things that two-way traffic helps," LoBianco explained. "It helps with circulation, so the businesses get the drive-by both directions. In this case, both east and west. It also calms traffic down for pedestrians and for parking needs and things as this becomes much less of a warehouse district and a highway situation and much more residential, shopping opportunities."

LoBianco is referring to Dubuque's Historic Millwork District, through which three of the streets slated for conversion run. He said the one-way streets were more useful back when the Millwork District was a heavy industrial area. Now, however, as it is becoming more of a shopping and residential hub, the one-way streets don't make as much sense, LoBianco said.

"Sometimes it's difficult," McCartney said, explaining his frustration with one-way streets. "You gotta go around a square block, for example, to make a left or right turn, so I think it's going to be better this way. I think it'll just take an adjustment period."

Dubuque converted part of Fourth, Fifth, Main and Iowa streets from one-ways to two-ways in the late 90s, LoBianco said, and people have grown accustomed to those now.

Construction on the streets' conversions began back in September. It's an overall $1.87 million project, Dubuque engineer Jon Dienst said.

The project will essentially make the entire stretch of all four roads two-way traffic. Ninth Street will convert to two-way traffic between Locust Street and Kerper Boulevard. 10th Street's new two-way section will span from Locust Street to Central Avenue. 11th Street's new two-way traffic will span from Central Avenue to Kerper Boulevard and Pine Street will be two-way from Ninth Street to 11th Street.

The two-way conversion project will include new traffic signals, sidewalk access ramps and signage.

Central Avenue and White, Bluff and Locust streets will all remain one-way.

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