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Council discusses rerouting Highway 69 proposal

Straightening Highway 152 in Clarke County is in the works.

Osceola City Administrator/Clerk Ty Wheeler said he had a meeting with the Iowa Department of Transportation District 5 office recently.

There is a project that is proposing "straightening out" Highway 152. The goal would be to straighten part of the highway so it would come out near Eastside Auto.

"The DOT has been working with the county on various scenarios regarding who would then be in charge of what, when it comes to (Highway) 152 — both its new section here and then the old section," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said the highway issue is primarily between the county supervisors and Iowa DOT.

Rerouting proposal

However, at the meeting Wheeler attended, it was proposed the Iowa DOT would proceed with the straightening project and reroute Highway 69 west onto the new Highway 152.

Highway 69 would then proceed south along Interstate 35, and then it would go back east on Highway 34 until proceeding south at the current intersection of Highway 34 and Highway 69 in Osceola, which is also known as the four corners.

Wheeler said the current Highway 69, also known as North Main Street, is controlled and maintained by the Iowa DOT. If the rerouting proposal would go into effect, that maintenance would transfer to the city of Osceola.

"It would become something like Business Route 69," he said. "That transfer wouldn't happen without some sum of money being paid to the city by the DOT, which we don't know what that would be yet. That would be determined at a later date."

Pros and cons

Wheeler said there are advantages and disadvantages to the proposed highway reroute.

"There's a significant amount of deferred of maintenance up there on North Main (Street)," he said. "That would need to be taken into account."

Wheeler said there's also concern with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad crossing.

"I would assume that the DOT has probably got a lot more power to coerce Burlington Northern into doing a rehab on that crossing, like we saw here a year ago, than the city might," he said.

He added, if compensated appropriately, the city could do something on its own to improve North Main Street.

"To me, it's kind of silly to think of that as a bypass, and yet bring it right back to the four corners (in Osceola)," said Councilman George Fotiadis. "Anybody that knows this region, we're going to have the same traffic load on (Highway) 69 as we've always had. No one coming down (Highway) 69 to Leon is going to go over to (Highway) 152 and then out and back. That's a mile out of their way for goodness sake. Why would they do that?"

Engineer input

Wheeler said his current recommendation is for the city's engineer with Veenstra and Kimm to look at the rerouting project and provide a cost-benefit analysis.

City council members were also interested in sitting down with county officials in working out a solution to the issue.

A motion was made and approved to authorize to obtain the city's engineers' input about the proposed rerouting project and how it will influence the city with cost, repair and maintenance.

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