The Ottumwa Courier

April 18, 2014

Public learns latest about Northwest Bypass at DOT meeting

By DUANE NOLLEN The Oskaloosa Herald
The Oskaloosa Herald

---- — OSKALOOSA — Many area residents learned the latest about the U.S. 63 Northwest Bypass of Oskaloosa at a public information meeting held Wednesday evening at Oskaloosa Middle School.

The two-hour meeting featured tables with maps of the three proposed routes for people to view and Iowa Department of Transportation officials to answer questions.

About 95 people had signed in at the meeting with only 45 minutes left, DOT officials said.

“It’s exceptional, I think,” DOT District Engineer Jim Armstrong said of the size of the audience. “I’m glad to see people here.”

Armstrong said the crowd has been steady throughout the meeting that started at 5 p.m. There were four tables with maps for people to review.

Armstrong said this was the second public information meeting about the bypass project. He said there are three proposed routes under consideration.

All three routes include an interchange at U.S. 163 and County Road G-43.

“Alternative 1 begins at the Iowa 163/G-43 interchange and extends northeasterly. It crosses Kirby Avenue, 220th Street and 210th Street before reconnecting with U.S. 63 south of the Oskaloosa water treatment plant and the South Skunk River.

“Alternative 2 begins at the Iowa 163/G-43 interchange and extends northeasterly. It turns

north onto the existing Kirby Avenue alignment and continues to the intersection with 210th Street. It then curves back to the northeast to cross the South Skunk River west of the existing U.S. 63 river crossing. After crossing the river, the new alignment curves back to the north and reconnects with existing U.S. 63.

“Alternative 3 begins at the Iowa 163/G-43 interchange and extends northeasterly. It turns

north onto the property line approximately one-quarter mile west of the Kirby Avenue alignment and extends to the intersection with 210th Street. It then curves back to the

northeast to cross the South Skunk River west of the existing U.S. 63 river crossing.

After crossing the river, the new alignment curves back to the north and reconnects with existing U.S. 63,” according to a DOT handout.

There is an environmental impact study underway that is scheduled to wrap up in 2016, Armstrong said.

The rationale for the bypass is safety — to get semi tractor-trailers out of the Oskaloosa downtown area.

According to a DOT handout sheet from the meeting, “the 2010 traffic volumes on existing U.S. 63 through Oskaloosa ranged from 4,500 to 7,700 vehicles per day (vpd) with 6 to

10 percent trucks. On existing U.S. 63 north of Oskaloosa, the volumes ranged from 2,800 to 4,500 vpd with 10 to 17 percent trucks. By 2040, the traffic volumes on these same segments are projected to increase to between 4,500 to 9,000 vpd with 8 to 13 percent trucks and 3,900 to 6,700 vpd with 12 to 20 percent trucks, respectively. The 2040 projections assume that the roadway characteristics remain the same as exists today.

“Between 2003 and 2012, there were 459 crashes on the segment of U.S. 63 within the Oskaloosa

city limits which is approximately twice the statewide average for similar roadways. During the same period, there were 50 crashes on the rural two lane segment north of the Oskaloosa city limits which was below the statewide average.”

Armstrong said most of the questions he fielded from people were typically: “Why are you here? When will the project be completed? And How will this affect me?”

Armstrong said DOT officials welcome input from the public and there will be more public information meetings to gain feedback from people in the future.