Burlington is moving ahead with a significant reconfiguration of Mount Pleasant Street. The city said the goal of the project is to improve safety.
City Engineer Jesse Howe told the Burlington City Council that a roughly 1.4 mile stretch of the street, from S. Gear Ave. to Highway 61, will be torn out and replaced with new asphalt and the lanes will be reconfigured.
He said instead of the existing four-lanes of traffic, there will be two-lanes for vehicles plus a center turn lane, and five-foot wide bicycle lanes will be marked along the curbs.
“The folks at the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and the state like to call these ‘road diets,’” said Howe. “That lane configuration does support our complete streets policy as there will be bike lanes. That will be a change to that area.”
There will also be additional sidewalks built along the street and certain intersections will have ADA ramps installed.
Howe said the FHA studied 15 similar road projects in Iowa in 2010. He said the report showed an increase in safety overall.
“Crashes per mile went from just about 24 to just about 12,” said Howe. “So it halved the incident rate from a safety perspective.
“The general trip times were very minimally affected. In a mile, they are talking under 30 seconds. One thing it did do was curb the excessive speeders. They found the instances of speeding over 5 MPH were usually cut by almost 70%.”
Alderwoman Annie Wilson said she supported the plan, in particular the additional bike lanes.
“It really encourages people to get out and one, be healthier, and two, be able to travel to places safely,” said Wilson. “You know, I rode my bike for a while throughout town and it can be really scary if there is no bike lane.”
Alderman Jon Billups said the need certainly exists.
“Quite honestly, some sections of Mount Pleasant Street are crowded with four cars,” said Billups. “I’m in favor of doing this. It would make a lot of sense.”
The city said the estimated price tag for the project is $1,275,000. A federal grant will cover $1,020,000 of that with Burlington ($109,650) and West Burlington ($145,350) paying the rest based on how much of the street is in their jurisdiction.
A public hearing on the project will be held Monday, March 19. The project will go out to bid in June and the contract will be awarded in early July.