This morning, representatives of Sioux Center Citizens For Responsible Growth asked a panel of Iowa Department of Transportation Commissioners to withdraw the DOT’s share of funding for a $6.7 million Highway 75 expansion through the heart of Sioux Center. The expansion was funded in the DOT’s 2013-2017 plan.
The CRG traveled to attend the public hearing in Coralville, Iowa, on behalf of hundreds of citizens who have objected to expanding Sioux Center’s Main Street.
“The City Council was asked, on at least two occasions, to take the Highway 75 project to a vote and simply gave the answer ‘NO,’” said CRG chair Rachel Hoogeveen. “We have more than 400 petition letters from citizens asking the DOT to deny the expansion, and it is our responsibility to make sure their voices are heard.” About 70-80% of residents oppose the expansion, based on polling by the Sioux Center News.
In tabling the issue temporarily on March 27, the council did not allow any public comment and did not address the many studies that the CRG had shared at its website, www.siouxcentercrg.com, which relied on DOT data to show that traffic on the road was decreasing and that a five-lane expansion would be detrimental to safety.
Additionally, an expansion would require taking land from many residents, demolishing some businesses and possibly homes, cutting down about 80 mature trees, and removing some street parking for downtown businesses.
Based on the Iowa DOT’s own measurements, traffic has been decreasing on Highway 75 and is currently close to 1999 levels, when the road was converted from a 4-lane to a 3-lane roadway and saw a huge decrease in accidents and fatalities.
The CRG has publicly expressed interest and willingness to work with both the city and the DOT to come up with a better plan for Highway 75 that will meet the needs of commuters without sacrificing safety, private property, and parking, and that won’t add to the city’s tax liability.
Commissioners will decide whether to include funding for the expansion in the next five-year plan for 2014-2018, which is expected to be published by the Iowa DOT in about a month.
CRG video of the public meeting where the council tabled the expansion and ended the meeting without taking questions: