First Avenue conversion draws few to open house Thursday

Area farmer and firefighter Karl Harris, left, expressed his frank opposition to the First Avenue road diet to Wes Mayberry, right, Iowa Department of Transportation assistant district engineer, at Thursday's open house at La Poste.

The conversion of First Avenue in Perry from four lanes to three was the subject of an open house Thursday evening at La Poste and in spite of the ferocious opposition to the redesign expressed in some Facebook comments on ThePerryNews’ stories about the project, attendance at the event was light.

Available to discuss the project and answer questions were Perry Mayor John Andorf, Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson, Bolton and Menk Engineers Jennifer McCoy and Matt Ferrier and Iowa Department of Transportation Assistant District Engineer Wes Mayberry.

There was no formal presentation or question-and-answer forum during the two-hour open-house event, but a video and other visual aids illustrated the safety-improvement project. Along with reconfiguring the lanes, the project also involves resurfacing the length of First Avenue.

“This is the stupidest idea I ever heard,” frankly speaking Bouton farmer and firefighter Karl Harris told the DOT’s Mayberry. Harris said his concerns center on moving large agricultural equipment through town along First Avenue.

Joe McCarty of Perry, an avid walker, said he was skeptical of the wisdom of the road diet. McCarty said the intersection of First and Willis avenues is more hazardous for pedestrians now than it was before it was redesigned in 2016.

The Iowa Highway 144/First Avenue four-to-three-lane conversion project was initiated by the city of Perry and the Iowa DOT and has been the subject of several reports in

This project takes in all of First Avenue from Iowa Highway 141 to the northern city limit and involves changing the existing four-lane section to a three-lane section, matching the section around Willis Avenue.

The purpose of the conversion project is to address the aging pavement of First Avenue and the high crash rate along this corridor. The city has devoted a web page for the project for citizens wishing for a fuller understanding.

The city of Perry intends to host a number of public meetings throughout 2019 to present the concept plan and gather feedback. Construction is set to begin in 2020.


  1. I regret not being at this open house but I was pressed with personal obligations. I totally support the proposed changes.
    I, for one, take exception to having large farm implements using First Street anyway. I question the necessity of most farmers in the area having to come through town when most of them could take the gravel roads on the perimeter of town and not go out of their way whatsoever. For Heaven’s sake, just how many farmers actually have diametrically opposing acreages north and south of town? Just how often does any other farmer or farm worker need to make a transit through Perry when they couldn’t take five or ten minutes more going around town? Sure, a few might be inconvenienced by going around but I suggest that would be much less an inconvenience than that of other drivers needing to virtually drive over the curbs avoiding the equipment, creeping behind the machines at a snail’s pace or putting their lives in the hands of God trying to pass them. I’m all for the farmers doing what they need to do to succeed but I’m thinking their bottom line would not be significantly impacted by driving their behemoth equipment around town. Perry is no longer the quiet and laid back little town that could deal with the occasional tractor hauling grain or the much smaller planters and combines coming through town. Between the ever increasing traffic and the immense size of the modern combines, we need to reconsider allowing said agricultural equipment come through town unless it is absolutely necessary. I think such a need would be very infrequent to non-existent.
    I have registered my complaints about the hazards of walking across the intersection of First and Willis before. I don’t see any problem with the crossing lights or crosswalks. My experience is quite a few drivers don’t seem to be paying attention. Also, I’m not the only person an impatient and frustrated driver has nearly hit by trying to make a right hand turn into a crosswalk while the walk light was plainly flashing. I’ve been cussed by one driver who didn’t want to wait and nearly had my toes flattened by two others trying to make that right on red after I’d already taken a couple steps onto the street.
    No. I don’t see any problem with the lights on First and Willis. I don’t see any problem with the proposed changes. The problem I do see is the reluctance of people to accept change.


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