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To the delight of many Iowa City drivers, traffic flowed in the new, elevated northbound lane of Dubuque Street for the first time ever this week.

Starting at 6 a.m. Monday, the elevated northbound lane was open, signaling the beginning of the end of the more than two years it took to complete the Gateway Project that included elevating Dubuque and replacing the adjoined Park Road Bridge.

Southbound traffic will flow on a new, elevated perch by Aug. 20 if all goes to plan, Melissa Clow, Iowa City special projects administrator, said Thursday morning.

Though the new Park Road Bridge is structurally complete, the connections to the elevated Dubuque Street will be made just before the University of Iowa football home opener against Northern Illinois — right in time for Labor Day, as well.

The major construction has elevated an arterial road out of the 100-year floodplain of the neighboring Iowa River.

"Everyone has shown amazing patience with this project," Clow said Thursday. She added that crews were "working all-out to get this done — we all want to see this get done on time."

Parts of Dubuque Street will feature one-lane traffic in both directions until later this fall, Clow said — southbound traffic is reduced to one lane from Foster Avenue to Park Road; northbound traffic is reduced to one lane from the southern end of the project, at Ronalds Street, to UI's Mayflower Residence Hall.

All lanes of both north- and south-bound traffic will be elevated and opened later this fall. Throughout the fall, Clow said, crews will still be working to install street lights and clean up the area, so periodic lane drops are to be expected.

The next construction season will involve seeding and landscaping throughout the project.

A Monday city news release urged pedestrians to take note of a change to their route. A crosswalk was added between Ronalds and Brown streets because pedestrians are supposed to use the east side of the project until they get to Mayflower.

Clow warned that if pedestrians continue to walk on the west side of the project, where there is no route for them, they could walk into an active construction site. 

The Gateway Project was started on May 31, 2016, Clow said. The City awarded the project to Peterson Construction, Inc., and was budgeted at $40,552,162.78.

According to a project page on the city's website, Dubuque Street would carry 25,000 vehicles a day as it is the most direct connection between Interstate 80 and downtown Iowa City, as well as UI's campus.

The project became a necessity because Dubuque Street would routinely flood due to being built in the floodplain of the Iowa River. The 1993 flood covered the street for almost two months. The 2008 flood covered the street for a month and forced Park Road Bridge to close. The street was flooded and partially closed again in 2013 and 2014.

Reach Zach Berg at 319-887-5412, zberg@press-citizen.com or follow him on Twitter at @ZacharyBerg.

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