Cedar Falls approves University Ave. renovation project - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Falls approves University Ave. renovation project

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The City of Cedar Falls is moving forward with a controversial plan to add six roundabouts to University Avenue.

The council voted 6-1 to approve the plan Monday night, following several hours of informational meetings and public comment. Residents packed the city council chambers, even overflowing to a room with a live video feed. Many spoke out against the plan.

"You believe that your job is to evaluate options and decide what is best for the city," one resident told the council. "That is not your job. That's none of your jobs."

There were also some in favor of the renovations, which will cost in the ballpark of $30 million.

"This will be a big change, whatever we do," said Marabeth Soneson. "It's tough for people to make change, but it's going to be ok."

Three options were put in front of the council -- one that included all stoplights on University, one with six stoplights and two roundabouts, and one with six roundabouts and two stoplights at Rownd St. and Midway Drive. That final plan was the frontrunner put forward by Foth Engineering. The road will also be reduced from six lanes to four, which planners say will still meet projected traffic demands through 2040.

Some voiced concerns about the plan, saying the roundabouts were confusing, and worrying about a lack of protected school crossings. Another issue: the cost.

"This is a check for $1000 to the city of Cedar Falls," said Larry Wyckoff, who is against the now-approved project. "If you come in 10 cents less than [the projected plan cost], OK, that's the deal, I'm on record."

Things got heated later in the evening, with several people in the audience shouting at council members from the back of the room. At one point, 3rd ward councilman John Runchey chastised the crowd.

"Will you please stop talking amongst yourselves?" he asked. "We're trying to listen to you."

The project will now move forward through further refinements, said mayor Jon Crews. The city hopes to address some concerns raised on Monday night. Construction could begin as early as next year.

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