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A possible Alburnett Road redesign discussed
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · June 1st, 2017

Marion's landscape is changing from a small bed -and-breakfast community to a Midwestern center for bicycling, the arts, nightlife, and entertainment. To aid in the transformation, easy-access commuting throughout the town has become a top priority for City officials, including an Alburnett Road Extension Project.

A public open house was held at Marion City Hall on Tuesday, May 23, beginning at 4:30 p.m., where City officials and Snyder & Associates, Inc. (engineers) informed local citizens about a possible Alburnett Road construction redesign. The project is only in the concept stage at this point, said Assistant City Engineer Michael Barkalow.

During the open house, several area residents asked questions about the project's reconstruction costs, effects on the community, and construction timeline, while looking over large aerial-view maps of the proposed bridge and road sites.

The road project proposal under consideration follows 2nd Street from 7th Avenue, through undeveloped land, and eventually connects to Alburnett Road at Edinburgh Avenue, just north of Boyson Road. This would allow easy traffic flow from the west edge of Marion to the Tower Terrace round-about, Oakridge Middle School, and County Home Road.

The City has outlined the following Need for Action:

1) Reduce traffic congestion on 10th Street between 7th Avenue and Boyson Rd., 2) Reduce traffic cutting through residential neighborhoods, 3) Provide a north-south corridor for future traffic growth, and 4) Provide pedestrian access and mobility. Barkalow said trail and bike users will also benefit from the plan, as well as emergency vehicles.

If the current plan is approved, Barkalow said the project will be constructed in two or three phases, with completion in approximately three years. The total estimated cost is about 5 million tax payer dollars. This includes roughly 2 million dollars needed for bridge construction. The City could possibly apply for federal funding for the bridge over Indian Creek, where the north and south sides of the proposed road would connect.

According to Barkalow, records show an Alburnett Road reconstruction Project Corridor feasibility study began in the year 2000, whe the City looked for hurdles and environmental impacts. There is currently $2.3 million in the budget for the project.

While no official schedule is set for construction, the Engineering Department, Parks Department, and the City Council will work together on this matter, said Tim West of Snyder & Associates, Inc.

Council members must first look at all options and what is most efficient for the City of Marion concerning the Alburnett Road Extension Project, said a Snyder & Associates, Inc. official. There are currently no plans for full traffic signals or roundabouts, and a full report could be ready in about two or three months. If the new plan is approved, Phase One could start as soon as next spring, Barkalow said.

In addition, several roadway areas, highlighted in pink on one of the maps, would need to be obtained by the City before road construction can begin, according to a Snyder & Associates, Inc. official.

If this particular plan is approved, then more right-of-way space on 2nd Street would be needed. The City then would look into a couple of options (including two full purchases), concerning neighboring resident properties which would likely be impacted.

Both Dennis Steffes and Brittany Welsh (property owners), were at the open house and told the Marion Times they think this would be the best move for the City. Steffes has lived in his home for 30 years and said, "This started 20 years ago." Welsh has lived at her corner-lot residence for 30 years. She stated, "I'm ready. It's an old house."

Barkalow said the City has not contacted either Steffes or Welsh concerning any acquisition of their properties. Any costs concerning Steffes or Welsh's properties, Barkalow said, would most likely come out of the $2.3 million. "We follow state law 6B. We try and negotiate in good faith and negotiate with them," said Barkalow.

Iowa State Law 6B: Procedure Under Eminent Domain states there must be a good-faith effort, mailed and published, by the purchaser prior to any proceedings. State Law 6B also states, "The notice shall be mailed by ordinary mail, not less than 30 days before the date the hearing is held, to the owner and any contract purchaser of record of each property."

For questions or more information, contact Dan Whitlow/City Engineer, 319.743.6340 or, or Troy Culver/Snyder & Associates, Inc. at (319) 362-9394 or
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