The image above shows how the interchange at Airport Road will look. It also shows other street connections the City plans to make. Maple Street, west of S-14, will be paved when an interchange happens. The project has not been scheduled by the DOT.
In a Thursday evening meeting (postponed from Monday because of the storm), the Nevada City Council decided to support a future interchange along US Highway 30 at Airport Road. The interchange still awaits programming by the Iowa Department of Transportation.
After lengthy discussion and hearing from several residents who asked to speak, council members outlined their views on the interchange.
Luke Spence, the lone vote of opposition to the Airport Road interchange, supported an interchange at the S-14/Sixth Street overpass, which will be constructed in 2023, linking Sixth Street to S-14. He outlined a number of reasons for his support, such as all the turmoil that Sixth Street businesses are dealing with this year. Spence supported the direct route to the downtown that this interchange would have provided.
Summarizing the reasons why the five other council members supported an Airport Road interchange, includes their desire to link the southwest part of Nevada more safely to the rest of the community with a new pedestrian/bike trail alongside the overpass. There was concern that putting an interchange at that overpass would not only bring more traffic and truck traffic into a residential neighborhood but also that this truck traffic might head right into the downtown and put a strain on new downtown streets.
Councilman Brian Hanson gave what he believes is the most important reason for putting an interchange at Airport Road – growing industry in that area and increasing the city’s tax base, which will allow the city to provide more services. Hanson said his decision came after speaking with many residents and considering what was best for the community as a whole.
Councilwoman Sandy Ehrig, representing the ward in southwest Nevada, and a longtime economic development professional, debunked some of the comments that have been made. The idea that a downtown dies when direct highway access is cut off “is a myth,” she said. Ehrig obtained 2015 DOT traffic counts that showed only 13 percent of traffic comes into Nevada via Sixth Street. She also noted there had been all kinds of successful interchange experiences in communities across the state.
She and several other council members made it clear that they won’t abandon the downtown, which they have supported in many ways through new infrastructure and support of the Main Street Program, just about to celebrate its first complete year.
Mayor Brett Barker said he appreciated the healthy feedback within the community on this heavily debated issue from many residents and business owners. He believed all of the discussion helped form the opinions and the decision council members made.
An overpass closing the S-14 intersection and connecting S-14 to Sixth Street is scheduled to be completed in 2023. The interchange decision Thursday had to be made, so designers knew whether the bridge needed to be built for an interchange or overpass. At this time, the future interchange at Airport Road and US Highway 30 has not been scheduled.