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Drive to Prosperity – Bluff Boulevard

Located in Clinton, IA

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Bluff Boulevard in Clinton is the City’s scenic main route from Highway 30 to downtown, bisecting the community with beautiful bluffs on the north side. The road is around a century old, with sections changing from two lanes to four and outdated traffic control devices. There are concerns about safety, with multiple crashes along a 2 ½-mile stretch that is mostly residential but also includes an elementary school. Clinton wants to remake Bluff Boulevard into an impressive gateway to the city without overwhelming the city’s budget. After the city was able to secure a highly competitive RAISE federal grant, in addition to Traffic Safety Improvement funds from the Iowa DOT, Clinton was ready to re-invent its “Drive to Prosperity.”

As this was the second phase in a larger project, the first step was to coordinate with the previous design team to create a seamless transition. Traffic studies were done and speed data collected along nine intersections, which found that drivers averaged 11 miles over the posted speed limit. In addition to higher speeds, the changing lane formations and too many access points to the road were creating many potential conflict areas for drivers. To provide more consistency, the majority of the road will be converted to three lanes, with two through lanes in each direction and a center turning lane. Where the road is too narrow, there will be two lanes with a raised median. Access management will include some side streets being closed and alternative routes for mail and waste pickup found, possibly by utilizing alleys along side streets.

While the bluffs on the north side of the road are scenic, they will make excavation difficult to get utilities in. Decorative retaining walls will add aesthetics and also function to prevent erosion. While mostly residential, there are a few businesses and an elementary school along the corridor, which will require the road to be multi-modal and include bus stops and pull-offs. An eight-foot sidewalk is proposed along the whole corridor on the south side of the road.

Currently there are three traffic signals along the corridor. Two signals will be upgraded, while the 14th Street intersection will be turned into a roundabout. Another roundabout will be added at the intersections with Springdale and 4th streets, which will realign the roads into one intersection and reduce the number of property acquisitions needed. Coordination is being done with the fire chief and local transit authority to ensure that fire trucks and buses will be able to navigate the road and intersections.

With a project this important to a community, comprehensive public outreach is being done, which includes meeting with residents who live along the corridor, meeting with business owners, and holding open houses during the design phase to get public feedback. The website and social media will also be utilized to keep the public updated on the project.

Phased construction of the new Bluff Boulevard will begin in the spring of 2025. The $17 million project – with the help of environmental graphics to create a brand for the corridor – will turn an outdated stretch of road into a scenic gateway to the Mississippi River town. Modeling the traffic patterns of the road for 20 years out will ensure that the “Drive to Prosperity” will continue operating smoothly and safely for years to come.

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