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Southwest Arterial moves towards final phase

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - Rainy conditions during the spring and fall are being blamed for one of the reasons behind the delayed opening of the Southwest Arterial.

The project originally began in 2018. Crews were optimistic towards completing the project by Thanksgiving 2019; however, weather caused major delays.

Dubuque experienced heavy amounts of rainfall during the spring and fall of 2019. Hugh Holak, spokesman for the Iowa DOT, said the wet conditions forced crews to spend more time cleaning up.

"In the spring, that really slowed us down because we couldn't get the grain dried and the rock in place," said Holak. "The graining in the middle interchange was definitely affected by the wet fall. On the mainline, by the time we started to get the fall rain, the base of asphalt was lifted and everything was rock. So that didn't affect us too much."

Dubuque saw about 55 inches of rain in 2019, a higher amount than previous years. Stormtrack 7 meteorologist, Brandon Libby, said there is a possibility for a wet pattern to continue this spring.

"It's definitely looking right now hat we could see a little more than average rainfall," said Libby. "Some of the long term outlooks, the 3-month outlooks, do show above-normal chance for precipitation. That being said, we have a neutral El Nino right now. So that muddles things up a little bit."

However, Holak said because of the progress they made last fall, heavy rain should not affect their deadline. They now expect to be finished by Labor Day.

"Being that we're on a hard surface all the way through," said Holak."If it rains overnight but it doesn't rain the next day and as long as it's above 40 or warmer, then it shouldn't affect us too much."

Some of the final work needed includes weather-proofing the asphalt, connecting street lights and adding traffic signs. Once opened, the road will connect Highway 20 to U.S. 61.

Ashley Scott

Reporter, Dubuque

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