More Fifth Avenue South work planned

Driving down Fifth Avenue South near the Menards store in Fort Dodge may be a different experience next year as a result of planned changes intended to make that stretch of road safer.

The most dramatic change will be the reduction of the current four-lane setup to a three lane arrangement, featuring one lane of travel in each direction with a center turning lane.

A right-turn lane will be created at the western driveway to Menards, 3319 Fifth Ave. S.

Permanent traffic signals will be placed at the store’s eastern driveway. The traffic lights that are there now were put up about six years ago and were intended to be in place for one year.

In November 2012, the city received a $500,000 state grant that Wade Greiman, a project director for Snyder & Associates of Ankeny, said will cover all of the construction costs. He said the city will need $50,000 to pay for the engineering costs.

Greiman briefed the City Council on the planned improvements Monday. The elected officials indicated that they were in favor of proceeding.

Councilman Mark Taylor asked if some of the money could be used to create a right-turn lane at Fifth Avenue South and Midway Boulevard. That’s the intersection where drivers turn to get to the post office. Taylor said traffic at the intersection will likely increase when FedEx Ground opens a new package distribution center nearby.

Greiman said he will ask state Department of Transportation officials if a turning lane there would be acceptable.

The council will consider a grant agreement between the city and the state when it meets on June 24.

Greiman and Chad Schaeffer, the city’s director of engineering, business affairs and community growth, agreed that it’s unlikely much work will be done on the project this year.

Schaeffer said it will take 12 weeks to get the new traffic lights after they are ordered. Greiman added that he expects the construction to be done next spring.