Work in preparation for the First Avenue Grade Separation Project has begun. Crews have removed trees from the area to prepare for upcoming construction work. The trees must be removed before April 1 as part of a Federal Highway Administration mandate that provides for the protection of the endangered Indiana bat and Northern Long-eared bat.

The City of Iowa City will host a public informational meeting to provide details about the First Avenue Grade Separation Project from 6-7:30 p.m., Monday, April 6 at South East Junior High library, 2501 Bradford Drive. The meeting will have an open house format, with a presentation about the project at 6:30 p.m. City staff and consultants will share upcoming construction information and details about what residents can expect during construction.

Approximately 13,000 vehicles use the First Avenue route on a daily basis, with future volumes projected to increase moderately. Each day, between two and four trains block First Avenue, causing conflicts, major traffic delays, and safety concerns for vehicles and pedestrians. Traffic studies have shown that on average, whenever the crossing is blocked, 288 vehicles idle in traffic for 10 to 20 minutes, while another 392 vehicles seek other routes, including the nearest grade-separated crossing on Summit Street, a four-mile detour.

Construction is scheduled to begin in April. The plan involves lowering First Avenue while raising the railroad at the current at-grade crossing of the Iowa Interstate Railroad. The City of Iowa City has designated funds, along with support from federal funding, to design and construct the separation between the railroad and vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Included in this project will be a new railroad bridge, street paving, water main improvements and other related work.

For more information, contact Jason Reichart at 319-356-5416 or

Date of publication

Tuesday, April 07, 2015