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YEAR IN REVIEW: Highway construction in 2019

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Eastern Iowa, KWWL - This year, a few highways in eastern Iowa have seen some big changes.

A couple of projects have crossed the finish line, while others are inching closer to completion.


Iowa drivers saw cones and detours across the viewing area in 2019.

The stretches of cold, rainy days challenged work crews, as the new stretch of Highway 63, from Franklin Street to Newel/Conger Street, officially opened this fall, after about two years of construction.

"It'll be something that really makes traffic go through here a lot smoother," Field Services Coordinator with the Iowa DOT, Pete Hjelmstad said.

You might remember, the highway used to be an underpass, forcing drivers to wait for passing trains. But now traffic goes over the railroad tracks, which also addresses water ponding on the roads on rainy days.

"During wet times and even during dry times with groundwater, the water table out there, you would end up with a lot of water on the road," Hjelmstad explained.

The nearly $55 million dollar project officially opened on November 1.

Credit: Black Hawk and Bremer County Construction Facebook


On the west side of the Cedar Valley, the Viking Road and Highway 58 interchange project also finished in November.

After deadly crashes at the intersection, it was considered one of the most dangerous in Iowa.

"The crashes that we did see, we want to do everything we can to make this a much more convenient and safer intersection," Hjelmstad added.

Today, Highway 58 runs underneath Viking Road. The single urban interchange project cost $32 million. The DOT says they only have a few of them in the state.

"The design was used because of all the development that has happened in that area – all the businesses that are in that area," Hjelmstad said.

Credit: Black Hawk and Bremer County Construction Facebook


Heading east on Highway 20 toward Dubuque, the Southwest Arterial is making progress.

The road connects Highway 20 to U.S. 61.

Crews hoped to finish by Thanksgiving, but this year, Mother Nature had a different plan.

Early on this spring, we had a hard time getting grade-ready," Hugh Holak with the Iowa DOT said. "It did cause the asphalt production to be pushed about a month."

Project leaders already have their sights set on 2020, pushing the completion date for the total $189 million project to next summer.

Credit: City of Dubuque Government Facebook

Olivia Schmitt

Weekend Anchor

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