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U.S. Highway 6 Opens Wide, Iowa Commuters Say ’Aaah’

Sat April 15, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Michael Tidman

The growth of the metropolitan area around Des Moines, IA, also has swollen the suburbs and bedroom communities that surround the city. The smaller Dallas County community of Adel and the areas surrounding it, have collected thousands of new residents over the past decade.

The daily traffic pressures and safety requirements of moving those people from home to work and back again necessitated the improvement of the US Highway 6 corridor linking Des Moines and Adel. The Highway 6 project will ease the commute and increase the capacity of the roadway between the communities by reconstructing the existing rural, two-lane section to an urban, four-lane section with paved shoulders (including curb and gutter, to allow for future corridor expansion).

The main part of the project was scheduled to be completed in six sections, at an estimated total cost of $38.7 million.

The first section — completed in 1997 — was the reconstruction of the intersection of US 6 and Highway 169 in Adel. Section two — completed in 1999 — included grading and bridge widening east of Adel to the town of Waukee.

Section three — scheduled to be completed this year — is a paving project. The grading work was completed as part of the work in section two. Section three will be paved this year.

Section four — completed in 1999 — included grading and paving east from the city of Waukee to Alice’s Road. Section five — completed in 1999 — included the grading and paving work from east of Alice’s Road east to west of Woodland’s Parkway in Urbandale.

Section six — a grade and PCC paving project — extends from west of Woodlands Parkway to the I-35/80 interchange. Section six was paved in 1998 and finished in 1999.

Iowa DOT Engineer Don Stevens said that successfully completing the project required typical grading equipment, including dozers, scrapers, blades, backhoes, excavators, off-road trucks, dump trucks, water trucks and trenchers. Stevens said that every section except section three used typical PCC paving train equipment, but this year’s project on section three will be a Full Depth ACC Paving operation.

The McAninch Corp. of Des Moines was the primary contractor on the projects, with the exception of section two, which was contracted by Peterson Contractors Inc. (PCI) of Reinbeck, IA.

Stevens said that the PCC paving subcontractor for section one was Nuckolls Concrete Services of Johnston. Paving subcontractor Cedar Valley Corp of Waterloo PCC completed section four and Peterson Construction Company of Des Moines completed sections five and six.

The project involved changing the total width of the pavement from a 7.2- meter slab (24 ft.) to a 27-meter (90 ft.) back of curb to back of curb width. Stevens said that some major side roads were reconstructed in sections five and six and that McAninch Corporation and the cities of Urbandale, Clive and Waukee partnered to complete the work on storm sewers in sections four and six.

Construction plans called for approximately 171,000 cubic meters (222,300 cu. yds.) of class 10 soils to be moved and 70,000 cubic meters (91,000 cu. yds.) of select soils to be moved — most of that as part of section two, which was contracted by PCI.

Stevens also said that two new bridges were completed as part of the work — one on Highway 6 and one for the City of Clive on relocated NW 128th Street, two bridges in section two were widened east of Adel to accommodate a four-lane undivided roadway. The Raccoon River bridge was widened one half at a time to allow residents local access east of the bridge.

Drainage projects included the construction of storm sewers in sections one, four, five, and six. Since section two is a rural, four-lane divided highway, drainage is achieved through the use of typical road ditches. However, an extensive number of farm tile relocation and reconnection projects were needed, and one culvert was constructed.

Also, with the required widening, came the challenge of addressing many utility concerns. The project contractors worked with local power supplier, Mid-American Energy, to relocate a major electrical line that ran along the corridor. Since the project was completed in a growing corridor, other utility lines that serve the area — including gas, water, rural water, city utilities (storm and sanitary sewers), fiber optic lines, telephone and cable TV — had to be relocated as well.

In addition to the major grading, construction and paving activities associated with the Highway 6 project, there has been a great deal of miscellaneous work completed, including demolition, signing and erosion control projects.

The project was designed to accommodate the activities and businesses of people in Adel during all phases of construction. Stevens also said that the Highway 6 project included plans to minimize its effect on an existing bike trail that runs parallel along the north side of the road throughout the corridor. Since many small businesses depend on Highway 6, construction projects were staged on sections four, five and six to minimize the impact on local businesses and property owners.

In Spring 1998 water levels on the Raccoon River rose, slowing the construction of the bridge and of the bridge berms. Its tributary, Walnut Creek, which runs through the construction area, also went out of its banks several times in April through July in 1998. It was during this wet period that the bridge berms had to be constructed. Adding fly ash to the soil helped dry the area out, working very well and shortening the time required to build the berms. In 1999, another wet season that lasted from spring into early summer, delayed the grading project. However an extremely dry and temperate fall in 1999 helped a great deal in getting all scheduled construction done on time.

US Highway 6 remains closed to through traffic and is scheduled for completion on November 15, 2000.

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