A third stoplight will soon be added in Huxley, following the Huxley City Council’s approval of a rebid for the project during their Dec. 10 meeting.
Three companies submitted bids for the Highway 69/First Street intersection project, which will add turning lanes to ease traffic congestion during heavy traffic periods. The lowest bid came from Con-Struct Inc. of Ames in the amount of $549,310.69. Gabe Nelson of Snyder and Associates said Con-Struct’s bid is similiar to the one they submitted when the project was initially bid last June.
As part of the project, the highway will be widened on the east side to allow for the addition of a left turning lane. The north side of First Street on the east side will also be widened to add a right turning lane. A traffic light will be added at the intersection and the pathway leading to the Heart of Iowa bike trail on the southeast side of the intersection will be paved. The intersection will remain open to traffic throughout the construction process. Work is expected to begin this spring.
Nelson said Con-Struct did a similar intersection-widening project in Ankeny where Oralabor meets Ankeny Boulevard. While that was a much larger intersection, Nelson believes the contractor can handle the one in Huxley.
"I believe they’re capable of doing this project, as well," Nelson said.
Councilwoman Marge Nerness questioned the need for a third traffic signal in town. She understands one is needed at the Highway 69/First Street intersection, but feels the one where the highway intersects Centennial Drive is unnecessary, because a majority of the traffic from Ballard High School does not go that way - drivers use the south exit of the school along Lynwood Drive.
Nelson said the traffic light was put at Centennial Drive because of the new high school. He said school administrators felt more comfortable having a signal there to help regulate traffic at the intersection. Huxley Police Chief Mark Pote estimated 25-30 percent of traffic coming from the high school use Centennial Drive, while the rest use Lynwood. Though there have not been any major traffic accidents where the highway meets First Street so far, Pote said traffic tie-ups are an issue, especially before and after school.
Councilman Scott Wilson asked if it was possible to sync the three traffic lights together so drivers would not have to stop at all three. Nelson said due to the spacing of the three future traffic signals, they would not be synced together - a fiber interconnect would be needed to make this happen. The two existing signals are currently tripped off by sensors located below the street.
A concern brought up during the discussion about the intersection was the storm sewer drainage from the area that outlets to a nearby property. The drainage has been happening for several decades and the property owner was hoping the water could be re-routed as part of this project. Councilwoman Tracey Roberts asked Nelson if this project would increase the amount of water draining to the nearby property. Nelson said it would not make a difference.
If the city wants to re-route the storm water drainage, it would need to be a separate project, Nelson said, because of all the work that would need to be done. The water would likely be directed down to the old railroad bed - larger drainage pipes would need to be added and work would need to be done near the homes along Sand Cherry Lane to address the increased drainage through that area.
"It would be a significant undertaking," Nelson said.
Mayor Craig Henry said he would put in a request to have the drainage to the property reviewed.