Vote key to Highway 14’s future expected Monday

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On the Monday, Aug. 20, Knoxville City Council agenda is an item intended to pursue $500,000 from the Iowa Department of Transportation to replace the traffic signals along Lincoln Street (Highway 14) inside the City limits. City Manager Aaron Adams says that the City is more likely to receive said funding, if it agrees to the DOT’s proposed lane reduction to three.
As previously reported by the Marion County Tribune, the DOT performed a traffic safety study for the City and suggested that Highway 14 be reduced to three lanes; one northbound, one southbound and a turning lane in the middle. Lanes are expected to stay the same width and the City would not mark any bicycle lanes. Adams said if experienced bike riders who felt comfortable riding on the shoulders of the remarked highway would be allowed, but not encouraged.
“Everyone who looks at it has said Highway 14 is a textbook case for road diet,” Adams said. “Road diet” is the term for the lane reduction. “Ninety-one communities in Iowa have gone through this process successfully. There is a body of research to show that it does not increase traffic time.”
Safety is also increased, Adams added. The DOT is the same organization that will weigh the merits of the City’s application for funds for the traffic signals. Highway 14 is also expected to be resurfaced in Knoxville next year. However, if the City does not go along with the road diet, there is a chance local taxpayers could be forced to cover the cost to replace the traffic signals and the road work may be delayed.
The City is planning to put a portion of the current bike trail over Highway 14. Adams said the crossing of the highway for the bike trail would be at Fifth Street, where traffic is much lighter. No bike lanes would be included along the length of the highway.
The road diet is an “integral” part of the application for funds the council will consider Monday night. If the application is approved by the council, the DOT is expected to make a decision by October.
Adams invites all interested parties to attend Monday’s council meeting to express their thoughts. The meeting will be held at 6:15 p.m. inside the council chambers at City Hall.