OTTUMWA — Turning westbound onto Highway 34 from Wapello Street will be a lot easier soon.
The Iowa Department of Transportation began work this week on a project that will add a turning lane bypass for traffic heading westbound on Highway 34 from Wapello Street, or Highway 149.
The project began Aug. 31 and is expected to take about 40 days. Pella-based TK Concrete, Inc. is the lead contractor on the $521,009 project.
A spokesperson for the DOT said Friday the project will add a free right turn lane onto Highway 149 as well as a merge lane on Highway 34. The DOT will also make changes to the traffic light timing following the improvements.
Once completed, traffic going southbound on Highway 149 and turning right will be able to use the new bypass lane and merge with westbound Highway 34 without a traffic signal.
There are some lane closures in the area while work continues. Crews will also pave the shoulder in the southeastern part of the intersection due to vehicle off-tracking in the area.
The project is one of three major projects affecting state highways in Ottumwa.
Work continues on U.S. 63 southbound from the roundabout is expected to be completed later this fall. The $13.2 million project is paving a new four-lane divided highway and replacing an existing bridge over a drainage ditch.
The DOT reported Friday that bridges are complete, and crews are starting work on the storm sewer. They plan to begin paving this month.
A $2.1 million project to replace the West Park Boulevard bridge that goes over Highway 149 remains in progress as well. The project has caused some closures to Highway 149. The project is expected to be completed this fall.