COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA — The Iowa Department of Transportation plans to debut its new dual divided freeway in just a few weeks, weather permitting.
"Be prepared and watch the signs," TSMO Engineer Austin Yates said. The whole goal of this is to separate the traffic that's just passing through versus the traffic that's coming in and out of Council Bluffs through Omaha."
There haven't been any major changes to the I-80, I-29 interchange since its original construction in the 1960s.
I-DOT says the Council Bluffs interstate system sees up to 75,000 vehicles a day, and they expect that number to reach about 130,000 by 2030. Yates says safety is a huge reason for the reconstruction.
"Separating traffic and cutting down on weaving movements we are expecting to see upwards of 25% fewer crashes, and not only will there be fewer crashes, they should be less severe," he said.
The freeway will alter how you get to and through Council Bluffs.
"We're [currently] about 3 lanes in each direction, and what you're going to see here (pretty much by the end of the year) [is] 6 lanes in each direction divided by a concrete barrier," Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement PIO Wendy Thompson said. We're going to have a total of 12 lanes, a few auxiliary lanes as well in each direction."
I-DOT says the dual divided freeway offers more flexibility for travelers and reducers congestion, but, "if you're stuck in the express lanes it will take you a little bit longer because you'll have to go to Omaha or Nebraska Avenue and turn around if you wanted to get off," Thompson said. So that's the part that's going to take you a little bit longer, if you're on the local lanes it's just how it is today."
Yates says it's important drivers know where they're going before reaching exit 4-B, west of Madison Ave, which is where drivers will have to choose between the express and local lanes on I-80 westbound.
"Before you leave your house, know where you're going, and pack your patience, wear your seat belt," Yates said.
I-DOT says the eastbound lanes of the new dual divided freeway should be open by the end of the year.