City holds informational meeting as Washington St. construction project prepares to launch

Image courtesy of the City of Iowa City
Plan rendering for the east block of Washington St. — via the City of Iowa City

As the project to revamp Washington Street ramps up, the City of Iowa City will host an informational, open house-style meeting to discuss the project’s plan, schedule and expectations. The meeting will be held tonight, Thurs., Mar. 31 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m in Room 202 of the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center (28 S. Linn Street).

Planning for the Washington Street Streetscape Project began in 2014 as part of the Iowa City and Pedestrian Mall Streetscape Plan. The project, which will cover the stretch of Washington St. between Clinton and Linn, will update below-ground infrastructure and restructure and repave roadways and sidewalks. The Dubuque-based firm Portzen Construction was awarded the project in early March. Construction for its first phase is slated to begin Apr. 11 and completion of the entire project is projected for Oct. 21.

Concerns were raised at the Mar. 23 City Council meeting by owners of businesses along Washington St. who worried about the project coinciding with some of their busiest months.

During an open discussion period during that meeting, Bo James owner Leah Cohen voiced concerns about changes to the streetscape project schedule. She said the original plan for construction on the block between Clinton and Dubuque had it commencing after UI’s semester ended and graduation took place. But she said that according to a new plan, access to the block’s businesses could be obstructed during critical months. Matthew Chackalackal, owner of the One Twenty Six restaurants on the same block, echoed Cohen’s concerns.

Tonight’s meeting will kick off with a presentation, after which City staff and consultants on the project will take questions from community members.

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