DOT lays out Airport Drive construction plans

Work starts Monday, expected to go to late October

It all starts Monday.

That’s when motorists will find themselves unable to get onto Airport Drive between Green Bay Street and County Road B, a situation they will have to put up with until late October.

State Department of Transportation officials held a lightly attended public meeting Tuesday at City Hall before construction work gets underway.

The work will include reconstructing the existing four-lane road to a two-lane road between Green Bay Street and County Road B; repairing curb and gutter and storm sewer; improving intersections; and reconstructing the railroad crossing.

In conjunction with the work on Airport Drive, the right turn lane on the westbound state Highway 29 offramp to Airport Drive (state Highway 47) will also close Monday for seven days.

Airport Drive from Highway 29 to County Road B will remain open to traffic, with at least one lane in both directions, for the duration of the project.

The intersection at County Road B will also be open, but everything from there to Green Bay Street will be closed off, with the exception of the Richmond Drive intersection, which will stay open for through traffic.

The Beauprey and Engle intersections will be closed until the Airport Drive work is completed, which is expected to happen around Oct. 21.

When the project is completed, motorists will also find something new at County Road B — stop signs.

“I think most of the population wanted something there,” said Jim Volkmann, DOT project manager.

Volkmann said going from a four-lane to a two-lane highway should also reduce the speed of traffic, which now often goes well beyond the posted 45 mph limit.

“I was out there going the speed limit and I was the slowest one on the road,” Volkmann said. “It was pretty dangerous.”

Volkmann said dedicated turn lanes will also improve safety.

“One thing you’re not going to have any more, you’re not going to have that person sitting at Beauprey taking a left and stopping that traffic that’s coming in at 60 mph, which we know is not going 45,” he said. “Now a dedicated turn lane gets them out of through traffic.”

Some residents questioned going down to a two-lane from a four-lane, but Volkmann said traffic volume did not warrant a four-lane highway.

He also said the state could not put stop signs at County Road B if it remained a four-lane.

The official state detour during the project will be Highway 29 to Highway 22, which is also the route truck traffic will be expected to take.

Local residents might find their routes, Volkmann conceded.

“I’m sure people will take the roads they know to get around inside the city limits,” he said.