Nearly two years after construction began, the new flyover bridge connecting I-35/80 with Highway 141 in Urbandale will open Friday, as well as other nearby traffic improvements.
The Iowa Department of Transportation says it plans to open the long-awaited interchanges — the flyover bridge connecting the interstate to northbound Highway 141 and a half-diamond interchange at Meredith Drive — at 5 a.m., weather permitting.
Also opening are four interstate driving lanes in each direction between the 86th Street and Douglas Avenue interchanges and a fifth auxiliary lane in each direction, which will give drivers more room to merge onto the interstate, said Ben Hucker, resident construction engineer for the DOT.
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“It will be a nice improvement through that area,” he said.
The $65 million project is intended to relieve congestion and safety issues for the more than 73,000 vehicles a day that travel that section of I-35/80, where the highway makes a sweeping turn from north-south to east-west.
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The previous configuration for northbound interstate traffic exiting onto Highway 141 was a loop, which forced drivers to quickly slow to a stop. It also created a dangerous situation during peak times, when traffic backed up onto the interstate, Hucker said.
“It couldn’t accommodate the traffic volumes,” he said.
Those improvements, in the area known as the Urban Loop, also will open up nearly 700 nearby acres that Urbandale officials believe is ripe for future development. Much of the land is considered shovel-ready, with infrastructure like water and sewer lines already in place.
“The City of Urbandale expects that this new access will accelerate the pace of commercial investment and job growth in business parks on the east and west sides of the interstate in this part of the Urban Loop development area,” city spokesperson Derek Zarn previously told the Des Moines Register.
The improvements also are partially credited for a surge in growth in Grimes, just north of the flyover bridge on Highway 141.
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Prior to Friday’s opening, the DOT will close northbound I-35/80 between the Douglas Avenue and 86th Street exchanges from 11 p.m. Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday. A contractor will install four new sign trusses over the roadway and make adjustments to shift traffic back to its normal, post-construction configuration.
Kim Norvell covers growth and development for the Register. Reach her at email@example.com or 515-284-8259. Follow her on Twitter @KimNorvellDMR.
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This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Long-awaited Highway 141 flyover bridge, other I-35/80 improvements, open Friday