Dec 11

IA 100 signs at I-380 to be replaced

Buried in the bid lettings for August 2017 was a sign contract mostly centered around the IA 100 interchange with I-380. There’s a significant difference in the new signs — Cedar Rapids has been replaced with Iowa City for the southbound control city.


This makes sense because Collins Road is within the Cedar Rapids city limits. I wonder if it would have made more sense, though, to use “Airport” instead. This will be the farthest north mention of Iowa City related to I-380.

Most if not all of the signs on IA 100 for this interchange are original to the 1983-84 construction. They’re also the largest single group still around retrofitted to include IA 27.

The complicated volleyball interchange will be signed as Exit 9, now that IA 100′s mile markers have been reset. As of Thanksgiving, these signs had not been erected, nor was an Exit 7 tab added to the Edgewood Road exit westbound. However, at least two are now up.

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Dec 08

US 61 Grandview bypass update

Correcting here and there: The expectation of four-lane US 61 opening around Grandview, extending the four-lane south from the Louisa/Muscatine county line, did not happen until December 1, Jason Hancock says. I should have put a question mark on the original headline.

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Dec 07


A streak ended Wednesday night.

The last time the Iowa women had won in Hilton Coliseum, Bill Fennelly was not ISU’s coach. The USSR existed; the Big 12 Conference didn’t. Taylor Swift was four days old. (That’s right, she’s eligible to be elected president in 2024. Start the campaign now.)

But last night, for the first time in a decade, the away team won the game. Despite a valiant effort by the Cyclones — better than I expected, honestly — the Hawkeyes had enough to win, 61-55. According to the webcast, four of ISU’s losses so far this season hinged on missing a game-tying three-pointer in the last minute.

Since 1996, when Iowa and ISU started playing each other after a short hiatus, this is the second time ISU lost to Iowa, UNI, and Drake in the same season. The other was 2002, one of two losing seasons in the Fennelly era. So far, it looks like this could be the third.

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Dec 06

School timeline gets some tweaks

I finally made good on the first part of a personal New Year’s resolution: I went through my entire timeline of school district and building changes and made year notations on a list of Iowa towns for closed buildings. (The spreadsheet is the one that I use to track my visits to each town.) That resulted in some cleanup of double-counted locations and a few additions.

  • Research into the Mid-Prairie schools’ history for a blog post led me to a KCII story about the West Chester building, which mentioned it closed in 1981. I pushed the timeline a year back to get that…
  • …which, in turn, resulted in adding the closure of the Albion school building that year, plus two documented consolidations.
  • Aerial photos show the demolition of the entire Menlo school complex. Everything but the core original building was gone by the time of the summer 2010 aerial photos, and the rest was gone in the next year.
  • The original school complex in Guttenberg, except for the gym, has been torn down as well.
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Dec 05

Marshalltown gets its sign back

July 29, 2009: BGS for the left exit of US 65 NB from I-80 EB. The sign was removed when the I-80/US 65 exit was rebuilt and expanded.

After the Great Renumbering of 1969 ended IA 64′s status as a cross-state highway, Marshalltown did not have a continuous number connection to Des Moines. Now, it looked like it did, because of the diagonal, but IA 330 stopped at US 65. However, Marshalltown remained the destination for the US 65 exit on I-80, even though 65 does not go there. It was reasonable because of the diagonal and because it was a logical place to list it. (Marshalltown is signed on I-80 WB as a supplementary destination on IA 146, although in that case it would work better at IA 224, but then Sully or Lake Red Rock would have to get bumped off.)

The IA 330 designation was officially extended to I-80 at the end of 2012, but shortly after, the sign to Marshalltown disappeared as the DOT began a project to add lanes to I-80 and eliminate one of Iowa’s most prominent left exits. When new signs came up, the listing was for Bondurant and Altoona, not Marshalltown, and there was a reason: The exit for eastbound US 6 wasn’t a separate ramp anymore.

But now, the Marshalltown Times-Republican reports, Marshalltown is back on the BGS for this exit. On long vacations, for me, that sign was a way of saying “almost home” (90 minutes to go after multiple days away), so it’s nice to see the change.

[The management is aware there is no webpage yet for IA 330's south end at Altoona. The appropriate parties have been notified. — Ed.]

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Dec 04

Give me Liberty or give me…wait a minute

December 30, 2012: Scene from the parade on Beale Street a day before the 2012 Liberty Bowl. Will ISU fans overwhelm Memphis again for an underwhelming bowl assignment?

Once Iowa State got bowl-eligible this season, hopes were high. A bowl is better than no bowl, or at least theoretically so, and there was a chance to play somewhere warm for the second time in a decade. There was a good chance of a power-conference bowl opponent for the first time since 2009 and the second time in seven bowls, or third if you count 2011 Rutgers in the Big East.

But instead, it’s the worst-case bowl scenario: A return to the Liberty Bowl playing essentially a road game against Memphis. Memphis was last seen lighting up the scoreboard in a double-OT loss to newly named Nebraska governor corn god heartthrob Scott Frost. This is the second time ISU will play a lower-tier bowl game against the local team, after the 2002 Humanitarian bowl in Boise, or third if you count playing Rutgers at Yankee Stadium.

Am I being overly critical? Entirely possibly! But when multiple sites projected us in Florida, a state ISU has never played a bowl game in, against Notre Dame, a team ISU has never played, I feel let down.

The build-up to the 2012 Liberty Bowl was big. Cyclones flooded Beale Street. The gnawing disappointment of playing a non-power opponent — in a rematch, at that — was staved off until about the second quarter. Then Iowa State proceeded to roll over and die in the cold — just like the previous year in the Pinstripe Bowl, except now it was also raining.

And speaking of bowl games in cold places…

(This will be the fourth postseason event in a year putting the Hawkeyes in New York City, following last season’s men’s NCAA basketball and wrestling tournaments and next season’s Big Ten tournament.)

Both teams in the state of Iowa beat their conference champions and were rewarded in ways barely considered rewarding. The lessons are, don’t let Kansas State run a 2-minute drill on you, and don’t lose to Purdue on Senior Day.

ISU still has a chance to have its second-best season in 40 years. Let’s not lose sight of that. Go Cyclones.

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Dec 01

DOT wants US 30 interchange at R70

Next Tuesday, the DOT will hold a meeting in Ames about closing off intersections on US 30 just east of I-35 in favor of an interchange. Substantial lengths of frontage road will have to be built in order to serve existing locations.

The large map (PDF) shows an interchange at 580th Avenue, otherwise known as County Road R70. It’s mislabeled as 580th Street on the smaller handout. This project would close 590th Avenue at Vetter Equipment Company, something the Story County supervisors opposed two years ago. Traffic from the west heading to Vetter would have to go past it, take the new exit, and come back east on the new road a quarter-mile north. This project would not affect at-grade intersections closer to Nevada.

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Nov 30

ISU’s 2017 season has parallels with 2005

December 31, 2005: Midfield of Reliant Stadium for the 2005 Houston Bowl between Iowa State and TCU. ISU lost the game 24-21 and finished 7-5; the following year, the regular season expanded to 12 games.

Iowa State football is 7-5. That’s better than anyone expected! (Meanwhile, in Iowa City, 7-5 means FIRE EVERYONE and grumbling about the obligation of a bowl game.) A season with a win over Oklahoma is special — although I wish it could be more special, and an eighth win in a bowl would do that. But it’s hard not to look wistfully at the games that got away.

From the moment Matt Campbell said “BS teams care about 6-and-6″, Iowa State has one win — against “we’re Baylor again” Baylor — and is 0-3 against teams with a pulse. In two of those games, one against a ranked opponent and the other with nearly the same record, ISU led early but couldn’t seal the deal. The games literally came down to the final seconds of regulation. Conspiracy? Karma? Or just Iowa State football?

When looking back at the season, and those heartbreakers, I can’t help but draw parallels to the 2005 season. Consider:

  • In 2005, ISU led Nebraska by 3 heading into the fourth quarter and then lost in double overtime. In 2017, ISU blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter — Iowa’s tying TD came with 1:05 left — and lost in overtime.
  • In 2005, ISU led Missouri by a touchdown with a minute remaining and first place in the Big 12 North on the line. Missouri drove 87 yards to tie the game with 20 seconds left and ISU lost in overtime on a missed field goal. In 2017, ISU trailed Oklahoma State by a touchdown with a minute remaining and second place in the Big 12 on the line — and lost on a probably-was-an-interception in the end zone with 32 seconds to go.
  • In 2005, on the last Saturday in November, ISU led Kansas by a touchdown with about two minutes to go, and punted. Kansas drove 58 yards in less than a minute to tie the game, and in overtime, again, ISU missed a field goal and lost. In 2017, on the last Saturday in November, ISU led Kansas State by 5 points with about two minutes to go, and punted after a pass-interference flag was waved off. KSU drove 87 yards and passed for the winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.

Shorter version: In 2005, ISU was a double-overtime and two last-minute drives from a 10-win season. In 2017, ISU was an overtime and two last-minute drives from a 10-win season (if ISU managed to beat OSU in the OT that didn’t happen).

Campbell already has one of the 10 best seasons in ISU football in the past 70 years, and yes, he’s staying at “a school that celebrates a 7-5 season” while the Tennessee and Arizona State fanbases are burning down their athletics departments for different reasons.

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Nov 29

Photo 31,000

April 30, 2016: This trompe l’oeil mural on the side of a building in downtown Bussey illustrates the history of the town and prominent buildings. A larger version of the photo can be seen here.

Bussey, in Marion County, was one of the towns I visited for the first time in 2016 as I completed my tour of the state. It was served by IA 156.

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Nov 28

Grandview bypass opened last week – UPDATED

The Muscatine Journal‘s coverage of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors earlier this month had a single paragraph mentioning that US 61 from the county line to 130th Street was expected to open Nov. 20. The new four-lane includes interchanges at IA 92 and at Louisa-Muscatine High School.

If it indeed has opened — and given the decent weather and customary Thanksgiving deadline, no reason it wouldn’t — it would have been nice to have a notice about it.

The Journal story was mostly about replacing the bridge for the former IA 99 across the Iowa River east of Wapello.

UPDATE: Jason Hancock, keeping an eye on traffic cameras set up along the new alignment, says it did not open until Dec. 1. This continues the nearly uninterrupted streak of a four-lane segment opening somewhere in Iowa every year for 60 years.

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