In the next few years Memorial Park Road to 210th St. in Mediapolis will be a four-lane divided highway.

Construction happening in Des Moines County to widen U.S. 61 has been hard to miss.

More than 10 miles of trees on the west side of the two-lane highway are in the process of being cleared as crews prepare the land for eventual paving.

Grading recently began there, said Hector Torres-Cacho, Iowa Department of Transportation District 5 transportation planner, but some wildlife remains to be cleared before grading fully gets underway.

This portion of widening U.S. 61 begins just north of Memorial Park Road in Burlington and concludes south of 210th Street in Mediapolis.

The 10.2-mile stretch eventually will become a four-lane divided highway, in line with the larger goal of widening all 196 miles of Iowa's U.S. 61. Thirty-three miles of the project remain between Des Moines and Louisa counties.

Torres-Cacho said if that portion of the project stays on track paving will begin in 2020.

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IDOT data show the grading portion of the project will cost about $17.3 million and paving about $19.3 million.

U.S. 61 improvements are part of the 2018-2022 Iowa Transportation Improvement Program allocating about $1.7 billion statewide for "modernization of Iowa's existing highway system and for enhanced highway safety features."

A "large part" of funding made available to states for highway construction projects comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation, spelled out in the 2015 spending authorization bill, Fixing America's Surface Transportation.

Placing traffic cones and rerouting traffic has been only one facet of modernizing U.S. 61.

Tim and Tonja Binder's home on Flint Bottom Road was in the path of the project's current stretch north of Burlington. When DOT approached the family in the spring of 2016 they were told to be out of their home by winter.

Ultimately their home was not demolished, but moved to a bluff off Upper Flint Road. The Binders now live in a neighborhood about three miles away.

Before construction crews can begin paving the new road it must be grated, which is expected to be complete in the fall.