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$13.6 million construction project on Highway 57 in Cedar Falls one step closer to completion

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL)- Crews are nearing the completion of phase two of work along a stretch of Highway 57, also known as West First Street, from just west of Hudson Road to Franklin Street.

The road is getting a center turn lane, meaning it will go from a four-lane highway to a five-lane highway. 

The $13.6 million dollar project has been underway in phases since April 2019. Crews expect to be finished with the second phase and have all lanes back open by the end of the month.

After a year and a half of work, those who live and work nearby are ready for the cones to go.

While it may just be a speedbump on the morning commute for drivers, the project has encompassed a good portion of Terrell Jordan and his neighbor's lives.

"You hear the beeping coming down the street and trucks moving in and out," he said.

Jordan and his family moved into their house along West First Street in July. The construction made it a complicated maneuver.

"We had to use the neighbor's drive and then back it up this way, but we made it work," he said.

For the first few months, they had to park down the block.

"We've taken our garbage across the street, or all the way down to the corner," he said. "It was also difficult for us having to carry groceries a whole block."

With the car parked a block away, Jordan said his elderly father could not leave the house for months.

"He would come and sit outside as walk as far as he could go," he said. "He couldn't make the walk all the way down to in there."

Jordan said his kids have mostly played out back since he worries about the busy road and construction outside his front door.

The construction has also had an impact on businesses in the area. Across the street at 4 Queens Dairy cream, General Manager Ashley Clark said the worst was when the construction began.

"I think people were pretty hesitant to come with all the cones, and it's kind of scary when you look at it," she said. "Once school started back up in August, and the college kids were back in town, we really picked up."

Wednesday was the last day of the ice cream store's season. Overall it has been a good one, despite all the challenges posed by both the construction and COVID-19.

"We were kind of nervous about it all, but it has still been a really good year for us," Clark said. "When we reopen in February, the cones won't be out there at all anymore. It'll be great to come back to that."

Even though it has made some everyday tasks harder, Jordan said he believes the project will make traffic better in the long run.

"There's an awful lot of traffic that goes up and down the street," he said. "A middle turn lane would make it a whole lot easier to keep traffic flowing."

Jordan said he and his neighbors would not miss the cones or the view of construction out their window. He is looking forward to turning both ways out of his driveway, which is not currently possible because of the construction.

The cones are not going away entirely. Crews still have one more section of the road from Ellen Street to Hudson Road to complete. Work on the final phase of the project won't begin until April 2021. It is expected to be completed by October 2021.

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