Stimulus package could mean pedestrian bridge in Iowa City - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Stimulus package could mean pedestrian bridge in Iowa City

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by Bryan Goettel

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Say your house has a laundry list of needed improvements, but because of a tight budget, you haven't seriously thought through the specifics. Imagine then someone told you tomorrow they have the money you need, but the catch is, you only have so long to get the plans in place. That scenario is similar to what cities across Iowa are facing  thanks to a proposed stimulus package.

Greg Farris works at Pearson just north of Interstate 80 in Iowa City. He lives just south of the interstate. Close enough to walk or ride his bike to work. There's just one problem.

"Right now the road's not really appropriate for that kind of travel," said Farris.  "There's not enough room on either side."

But that may not be the case for long. Johnson County is slated to receive 3.6 million dollars as part of a stimulus package to help with road projects. Among the half-dozen projects Iowa City is considering -- a pedestrian bridge that would link Pearson and it's more than a thousand employees to the south side of the interstate.

"This just gives 'em a little bit safer means of getting across I-80," said Iowa City engineer Ron Knoche. "It'd be a separate bridge from the roadway bridge and be able to get 'em up there."

The connection isn't cheap. At 1.8 million, it's the most expensive project Iowa City is considering. Without the stimulus package, it likely wouldn't happen anytime soon.

"We don't really have the local funds available to do it ourselves and so it starts moving those projects forward a little bit and makes them a little more of a reality," said Knoche.

Other proposed projects include road improvements to portions of Highway 218, Scott Boulevard and Emerald Street. They'll go to a board for a vote next month. If given the money, engineers have just a four month window to get the projects under contract. For Farris and many of his co-workers, the bridge project is one they hope goes forward.

"I know for commuters and people who live locally to get up here it would be a lot easier to go back and forth," said Farris.

Knoche says the various proposals would also serve as roadway toward creating jobs. When asked how many it could mean, he said it's too early to have an idea.

For a complete list of stimulus projects in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Dubuque, click here.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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