CORALVILLE, Iowa (KWWL) - People driving along the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids corridor have become accustomed to cranes, cones and construction when they change highways in Coralville or Tiffin.
"It gets very congested," Tracy Harris said, a rideshare driver in Iowa City.
The Department of Transportation has been working on the I-80, I-380 connector project since 2018. The project is replacing all eight onramps and offramps between the two highways. It's projected to be completed in 2024.
The first year was devoted to relaying utilities and soil setting. Crews then started working on the first flyover bridge from I-80 EB to I-380 NB. The first two segments opened in December 2020.
Harris, who often has to drive to Cedar Rapids, says the current transition from I-80 WB TO 380 NB feels like a bottleneck.
That section currently has one lane for drivers coming off the new ramp, one lane for drivers coming from I-80 WB and one lane for drivers continuing north from Hwy 218. While each direction has its own lane, they all come together within about ten yards.
"I'm nervous I'm going to hit the car that's trying to squeeze in. So, it becomes stressful," Harris said.
When the project is completed, that section will be a full six lanes wide in each direction.
The project was originally slated to be completed in 2023 but DOT officials say they were delayed by the pandemic; pushing back bid applications for a $120 million phase of the project.
"Due to our revenues falling off --just because people weren't driving-- they're working from home like I am still, we moved it to December. So, kind of a delay of six months," Cathy Cutler said, a spokesperson for the DOT.
While it's a long process, Cutler says they haven't gotten too many complaints and hopes people can think of what's to come.
"It's painful to go through, it's multi-year to go through. But I think the end product is something everyone's going to be very happy with," Cutler said.
Hwy 218 NB to I-80 WB is currently closed and will be until 2023. Drivers have to use a detour by going up to Forevergreen Road, turning around and then merging onto I-80 W.
The next major section to close will be I-80 WB to Hwy 218 SB. That will start in the summer or fall of 2021 and be closed until 2023.
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