Construction of the First Avenue Grade Separation Project, which elevates the railroad crossing and lowers the road, is progressing and will require the closure of First Avenue beginning Saturday, August 20, 2016.

The closure will impact First Avenue, south of Bradford Drive through Mall Drive, which will be closed to thru traffic and is necessary for crews to remove the temporary road and begin paving under the new railroad bridge.

During this closure, First Avenue traffic will detour onto Muscatine Avenue, Scott Boulevard and US Highway 6. South East Junior High School, from the north, and businesses along First Avenue and Mall Drive, from the south, will remain accessible. It is anticipated that First Avenue will re-open to traffic in early September. 

This closure will also affect pedestrians. People looking to safely cross the railroad during the closure should use the Longfellow tunnel located at the corner of Lower Muscatine Road and Kirkwood Avenue.

The Iowa City Community School District is communicating with parents of South East Junior High School, City High School and Tate High School and has issued the following safety recommendations:

  • If your student is eligible, use the school bus.
  • South East Junior High families that live south of the railroad tracks and are not bus eligible will be contacted directly by school administration with instructions on an alternate walk/ride route to the school.
  • City High and Tate High students not eligible for the school bus, will need to find an alternate walk/bike route as there will not be access to cross the railroad tracks at First Avenue.
  • South East Junior High parents are urged to avoid Bradford Drive to drop-off and pick-up students. An alternative drop-off and pick-up area will be at Mercer Park Aquatic Center. 

The Eastside Loop route is also available via Iowa City Transit for students during the 2016-2017 school year. The route will continue last year's detour during the First Avenue closure. A map of the AM & PM route along with the schedule are available for viewing at Please note, the Bongo map is not currently showing the most accurate Eastside Loop route. We are working to get it fixed. Additional school travel information is available at

The Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) will continue to work with families as the start of classes approach to provide students with a safe route to and from school during the closure.

For additional information related to ICCSD’s plans, please contact your student’s school directly. School contact information can be found at

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Date of publication

Thursday, August 11, 2016