First Avenue Grade Separation Project News


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. 

An artist's rendering of the First Avenue Grade Separation Project
A rendering of the First Avenue Grade Separation Project.

Work Involved

Construction began in April 2015 and is expected to wrap in 2017. Work involved 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. This project resulted in a new railroad bridge, street paving, water main improvements and other related work. 

The project is nearing completion and should be finished in 2017. Crews are installing pedestrian signals, along with final restoration and clean-up. 

Stay Connected 

For project updates be sure to follow the City of Iowa City on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to receive e-mail updates via the City's e-subscription service. Videos that were created during construction are also available from the City's cable channel, City Channel 4. Simply search First Avenue in the search bar. 

Four Lane to Three Lane Conversion Project

The City is making safety improvements to First Avenue by reducing traffic lanes. Work will begin May 17, 2017. To learn more about the project visit