Atlantic Council to request street/bike lane conversions from I-DOT


June 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, by a 6-to-1 vote, passed a Resolution requesting the Iowa Department of Transportation, to allow the City to convert 2nd Street from Buck Creek Road to Poplar Street, from a four lane to three-lanes (2 travel lanes, with a center turn lane) and a five-foot bike lane on both sides. The idea is to have a safe route of travel for bicycling enthusiasts to get from downtown Atlantic to the Schildberg Recreation Area, and an eventual connector to the T-Bone Trail.

The original Resolution had called for the conversion to include 2nd Street to Chestnut, but as Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Livengood pointed out, there would be a loss of parking spaces on 2nd Street, between Poplar and Chestnut. Councilman Shaun Shouse said it wouldn’t be possible to include the stretch of 2nd Street between Poplar and Chestnut, because the road is too narrow. Shouse said the cost of re-striping for the bike lanes and adding signage to the proposed route is much lower than trying to pave gravel portions of road on alternate routes, which come through  industrial areas that are also less aesthetically attractive. City Administrator Doug Harris said another reason the Resolution was changed to end the bike lanes at Poplar, was because that’s as far as Highway 83 (which becomes 2nd Street in Atlantic) goes, and the only stretch of the road where permission is needed from the State to add bike lanes or make other such changes.

Councilman Chris Jimerson, who often rides his bike to work, provided the lone nay vote on the Resolution, citing safety concerns. He said he worries about a child, or even an adult, getting onto Buck Creek Road and getting hit by a car, because it is a well traveled Road. During discussion, Councilman Dana Halder wondered if the City wasn’t getting ahead of itself, because there is no clearly defined bike route into Atlantic, and the Schildberg Rec Area, other than along the main highways. He wanted to know if there would eventually be more than one route into Atlantic from the Trail connection to the north.

Nishna Valley Trails group member Myra Kail, who initiated the bike lanes discussion with City Administrator Doug Harris, said her intentions was to find a way to bring the trail into Atlantic, that would ultimately “benefit the community.”  She says as far as she’s concerned, bring bicyclists into Atlantic doesn’t mean they necessarily have to come by way of the Schildberg Quarry. It means “Into the City proper, of Atlantic,” where they can shop, find food, a restroom and things of that nature. ” She says she wanted to “Open the doorway,” for how they would get bicyclists safely from Schildberg, into the City. Kail said “The possibility for there to be on-the-ground visibility of progress” being made on the trail, “Is absolutely huge, to the overall plan.”

City Administrator Doug Harris said he doesn’t yet have an estimate on how much it would cost the City to pay for the striping and signage changes, but Ed Kail, who is also with the Nishna Valley Trails group, said they “Would be willing to put some skin in the game,” as far as helping to pay for the cost of the signs, but no dollar figure will be available until the actual costs become clearer.