By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer
OTTUMWA — Change is coming to some of the major streets in Ottumwa, and city officials want to be sure the public is informed about several of the projects that could impact a majority of the community.
Two public meetings on Wednesday and Thursday will provide Ottumwans with information about the Pennsylvania Avenue Reconstruction and Widening Project and the switch to two-way traffic on Main and Second streets.
Wednesday’s meeting will highlight the switch from one-way to two-way traffic on Main and Second streets between McPherson Avenue and Jefferson Street.
Switching the two streets is happening because a portion of the sewer piping underneath Main and Second streets is currently being repaired. Part of the streets, from McPherson Avenue to McLean Street, will have to be converted to two-way to accommodate for the construction.
Since that makes a good head start toward a full conversion, according to Public Works Director Larry Seals from a previous Courier article, it only makes sense to carry the two-way traffic all the way to Jefferson Street.
The meeting, which will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Salvation Army Headquarters on West Second Street, is designed to show the community what the impact will be and to discuss the timing of the change, according to a city of Ottumwa news release.
Thursday’s meeting, set for 5 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Free Methodist Church on Pennsylvania Avenue, will be a chance for business and property owners to learn more about the Pennsylvania Avenue Reconstruction and Widening Project.
Community members will be able to learn more information about the project, such as the construction schedule, work zone traffic changes and street closings, impacts on the neighborhood and other public improvements that will come from the reconstruction.
The project is designed to be a full-width and full-depth reconstruction of the street from Brentwood Drive to Jefferson Street. In addition to being redone, the street will also be widened to accommodate a center turn lane, turn lanes will be installed at the Elm Street and Pennsylvania Avenue intersection, a new storm sewer will be installed, part of the sanitary system will be rerouted and the traffic signal at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Pennsylvania Avenue will be upgraded.
According to City Engineer Dan Strum at the City Council meeting on Jan. 21, the project will be done in three stages to make sure, at the best of their ability, there is always at least one entrance open for the businesses on Pennsylvania Avenue to reduce the impact of the construction.
He also mentioned that the work could likely take the entire construction season if it starts in the spring.
Bids for the project will be received on Feb. 12 with the bid awarding to be presented at the City Council meeting on Feb. 18. The engineer’s estimate for the project has been set at $2,475,000.
These two construction projects will bring a lot of change to some of Ottumwa’s busiest streets. To make sure the public is fully informed about the impact of the change, it is strongly encouraged that everyone, especially those directly affected, try to attend the public meetings.
— To see reporter Josh Vardaman’s Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh