NL mayor issues letter supporting I-380 widening, pushing back against Iowa City

NL mayor issues letter supporting I-380 widening, pushing back against Iowa City
KCJJ Staff

With Iowa City officials planning to send a letter to the Iowa Department of Transportation against a planned expansion of Interstate 380, at least one local municipality is putting in a good word for the idea.

North Liberty Mayor Terry Donahue has presented his own letter for the city council’s approval supporting the proposed expansion of I-380 from four lanes to six from Forevergreen Road to Cedar Rapids. In it, Donahue gives several reasons why the interstate should be expanded, saying the idea “is being greeted with positive response from our citizenry.”

Donahue argues “persons in our nearby area forget” I-380 “is not exclusively a commuter-based interstate,” saying it has a growing importance for intrastate and interstate commerce, the potential of autonomous vehicles will be enhanced by an expansion of the road and will help with current traffic flow challenges.

He goes on to note it would also help the continued growth of North Liberty, Tiffin, and post-flood Cedar Rapids, will increase traffic at the Eastern Iowa Airport, will cement the interdependence and inter-connectivity of corridor communities, and give better access to local recreation areas.

Donahue adds any community would be remiss if other modes of transportation were not also investigated.

This letter comes less than a month after Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton presented his city council with a second draft of a letter against the expansion plans. He argues the DOT is making “questionable” assumptions about traffic volumes and safety, has “a disregard for climate change,” is too costly, and ignores the future of autonomous vehicles.

The DOT is planning to expand the interstate by one lane in each direction between Forevergreen Road and Wright Brothers Boulevard starting in 2025. The project is estimated to cost $400 million, adjusted for future inflation.