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.
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.