Marion, IA

Sixth Avenue Close To Opening

Scott Foens

Lined and signed, the final section of Marion’s Sixth Avenue project is close to opening and none too soon for motorists traveling across Marion.
Sixth Avenue almost ready for motoristsScott Foens

When barricades went up on July 13, closing Seventh Avenue through the city’s Uptown business district, the only route straight through Marion disappeared forcing drivers to circumnavigate construction by weaving through side streets. Uptown is undergoing a multi-month roadway redevelopment, sidewalk enhancement and streetscaping work designed to improve pedestrian accessibility to the businesses.
Seventh Avenue closed to through trafficScott Foens

Just a few items remain to be completed before Sixth Avenue can open to traffic. According to Marion Assistant City Engineer Jacob Hahn, “contractors are working on the traffic signal installation and other punch list items.” Included in that list are traffic signals at the new Marion Lofts location.
Intersection ready for traffic light poles at Marion LoftsScott Foens

Concrete footings for the signal poles are poured and contractors installed a cement pad for the intersection controller. However, getting materials for the lights has been a bit of a challenge. Coronavirus spread reduced manufacturing capacity and last year’s derecho consumed vendor inventory. “Materials have started to come in,” said Hahn but contractors experienced delays receiving the signal lights and equipment used to control them.

Opening Sixth Avenue will not alter which lane motorists need to be in if traveling west through the 27th Street round-a-bout. Drivers will still need to be in the right lane to enter the new route. Eastbound drivers will need to pay closer attention to approaching cars because they are required to yield to any vehicles on their left.

At the Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street round-a-bout, the competition to be in the left lane will shift to a fight for the right lane in order to get on Sixth Avenue.

Twelve years in the making, this represents the final significant contribution of Marion Central Corridor project, a concept initially approved in 2009. The resurfaced and extended Sixth Avenue effort included construction of three round-a-bouts, new sidewalks, landscaping and storm sewers. Unforeseen construction difficulties with the round-a-bout at Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street and needing to use eminent domain for two right-of-way acquisitions added to project complexity.

Redevelopment and new construction projects appeared as plan phases completed. These efforts include a new library building between Eleventh and Twelfth Streets, Marion Lofts, a multi-family complex and the West End Diner at the corner of Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue. Both the West End Diner and Marion Lofts are open with work on the new library location expected to complete in January of next year. No opening date for the new facility has been set.

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