MERRILL, Iowa -- Travelers on U.S. Highway 75 will face head-to-head traffic again this summer as the second phase of the reconstruction of one of the state's oldest four-lane highways begins soon.
The Iowa Department of Transportation announced Thursday that the northbound lanes of the highway from Merrill to just south of Le Mars are scheduled to be closed on June 4. Motorists will be shifted to head-to-head traffic in the southbound lanes, which were rebuilt last summer.
Completion of the $8.2 million project is expected by Sept. 4.
During construction, the U.S. 75 intersection with Plymouth County Road C-38, a heavily used blacktop just south of Le Mars, will be closed. Detours on C-38 will utilize Key Avenue and 200th Street to the west of U.S. 75. On the east side of the highway, C-38 traffic will be detoured onto 24th Street Southwest and Lake Street.
Work includes pavement replacement and regrading the two-mile stretch between Merrill and the C-38 intersection. Once completed, both sides of the highway will be on roughly the same elevation, rather than the previous alignment in which the southbound lanes were higher.
"We're trying to get the elevation between the two lanes close to even," said Dakin Schultz, IDOT District 3 traffic planner.
The drastic difference in elevation posed safety risks for motorists on median crossovers, Schultz said. The road bed is also showing some age on a section of four-lane highway that dates back to the 1950s, Schultz said.
Siouxlanders may as well get used to seeing traffic cones on U.S. 75.
The five miles of northbound lanes from Sioux City to Hinton are scheduled for reconstruction in 2019. In 2022, the six miles of northbound lanes between Hinton and Merrill are scheduled for replacement, and the southbound lanes in that same stretch are in the IDOT's five-year road construction plan for 2023.
Noticeably absent in the current draft of the five-year plan is the reconstruction of the southbound lanes between Sioux City and Hinton. Schultz said he expected that project would be added sooner rather than later.
"I'm sure they will want to get it completed before they do the other stretch between Hinton and Merrill," Schultz said.