The City of Cedar Falls was selected as a 2019 All-Star Community Award from the Iowa League of Cities for the reconstruction of University Avenue.
“We are excited to have been selected for this award,” said Stephanie Houk Sheetz, Cedar Falls Director of Community Development. “The reconstruction of University Avenue was a process which was very important to our city and remains so today, to support businesses, improve safety, and provide multi-modal opportunities for our community.”
Construction work began in March 2016 for University Avenue. Phase 1 spanned from Grove Street east to McClain Drive. It was completed in July 2017. Phase 2 construction kicked off in Spring 2017 and was planned as a two-year project. The first year completed the area between McClain Drive and just east of Rownd Street. The second year picked up from there and stretched east almost to Midway Drive. In 2018, Phase 3 construction was completed at the Highway 58/University Avenue interchange.
“The transformation of University Avenue included not only implementing roundabouts as a safer and more eco-friendly solution to traffic lights,” explains Sheetz. “We also incorporated sidewalks, a bike lane, benches and landscaping, as well as mid-block pedestrian crossing signals and pull outs that allow busses to stop without impeding traffic. All of these updates helped achieve higher safety for pedestrians as well as drivers.”
“There was no doubt that the roadway needed to be reconstructed,” said City Administrator Ron Gaines. “We didn’t want a temporary solution. We wanted to really envision how University Avenue could best serve our community, not only today, but well into the future.”
To do this, the City Council established project priorities including a design that would be safe, efficient, cost-effective, and also include pedestrian bike and walking lanes.
“We did a lot of research prior to the start of the project,” said Gaines. “We visited Johnson, Iowa, where they had just installed roundabouts. We also visited Carmel, Indiana, which probably has the most roundabouts per capita than any other city in the United States. It was really interesting to see how they were implementing them and the cost-savings associated with it. This is what we like to do as a city. Investigate how things work before we make a decision.”
“We are proud of the transformation of University Avenue and excited for the future of that area.”