Supervisors discuss plan for Highway 30 task force

Austin HarringtonSpecial to the
Journal

More than a month after the Story County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to draft an official letter opposing the closing of several intersections along U.S. Highway 30 between Ames and Nevada, the board received an update Tuesday suggesting the letter had little impact on the future of those intersections.

The Iowa Department of Transportation proposed closing six intersections along U.S. 30, as well as two interchanges between Ames and Nevada, one at Airport Road and the other at County Road R-70, with the goal of improving safety and accommodating increased traffic flow. The supervisors’ letter directly addressed the intersections of 580th, 590th and 600th avenues.

Story County resident Randy Collings told the board during its meeting Tuesday that he has met with the director of Iowa DOT Paul Trombino and from those meetings, he doesn’t believe Trombino has any intention of leaving the intersections open.

“He is very enthusiastic about closing those intersections. He wants continuity along the Highway 30 corridor,” Collings said.

Collings said that he understands the need for continuity, but he wants to make sure people have a way of traveling safely within the county.

“If we are unable to keep those intersections open, what are we going to do to continue our access from the north part of the county to the south part between Ames and Nevada, because if the DOT closes those intersections, we lose our access,” Collings said.

As a farmer, Collings said he is worried that the DOT is putting people in a dangerous position of having to ride bikes or drive cars on streets that will be heavily traveled by farmers driving large equipment with no other routes to choose from.

“They’re wanting to funnel cars, trucks, bicycles, tractors, combines, everything down two roads. There’s been one person killed south on Highway 30, a bicyclist was killed several years ago. So that doesn’t pan out well,” Collings said.

According to Collings, Nevada city officials and other concerned members of the community are now setting up a task force to search for other solutions that could be used to address their issues.

“I’m quite confident, with the people that are wanting to be involved in this, we will come up with a good option,” Collings said.

Collings said he would like to see the task force consist of members of the Nevada City Council, local business owners, members of the community, a retired DOT engineer and Story County Supervisors, which is why he attended Tuesday’s meeting.

The board was not able to officially commit to being involved with the task force since Collings brought up the issue during a public comment period of the meeting, but the supervisors did express their interest in being involved in the process.

“I can’t speak for the entire board, but I can’t see why the county wouldn’t want to have a representative on the committee,” Supervisor Wayne Clinton said. “I think if they reach out to us, I would hope that one of us would be willing to serve on that task force. I know I would be willing to consider it as well.”

Supervisor Paul Toot said he received a letter earlier in the week and he plans on responding “positively to the mayor.”

Collings said that he will stay involved in the fight to keep the intersections open or do his best to come up with another solution.

“I was originally working for the farmer, I guess I’m working for everybody now,” Collings said.