Bellevue ponders study for problematic intersection

BELLEVUE, Iowa — The City of Bellevue is considering funding a study that would evaluate options to improve safety at a busy intersection.

The proposed $20,500 feasibility study, to be completed by Origin Design, centers on the intersection of U.S. 52 and 395th Avenue, which provides access to Off Shore Resort in Bellevue.

The spot has long been viewed as a dangerous area, said Bellevue City Administrator Abbey Skrivseth.

“There have been concerns for years,” she said. “There have been a lot of close calls.”

She said the intersection meets the minimum — but not the recommended — sight distance for drivers turning out of 395th Avenue onto U.S. 52, because of an obstruction caused by a highway overpass just north of 395th Avenue.

“The bridge sits higher because of the railroad tracks underneath,” Skrivseth said at a Bellevue City Council meeting this week. “It doesn’t necessarily have to do with Off Shore (and) the new developers, but we know there’s going to be increased traffic because of that, with pedestrians, vehicles, campers, etc.”

Residents and officials also are concerned about the safety of children who will access the resort from a bike path adjacent to the highway, now that the resort’s aquatic center will become the city’s municipal pool. In a partnership finalized in April, the city committed financial assistance and an annual fee in return for lower pool admission rates for city residents.

Skrivseth said a 2016 study of the intersection offered several options for increasing safety. These included moving signage, constructing a right-turn lane for traffic turning north onto U.S. 52 or moving the intersection to the south to allow the recommended sight distance.

The Origin Design study would determine the feasibility and cost of these and any other options, Skrivseth said. The city could then use the information in the study to apply for additional funds to cover the cost of any improvements.

Representatives from Origin Design did not respond to requests for comment.

City leaders have not yet decided whether to fund the study. At this week’s meeting, City Council Member Tom Roth questioned if it would be financially feasible to move the intersection if the study indicated that was the best option.

If not, he questioned whether the study itself is financially worthwhile.

“That’s going to be a big number (to move the intersection),” he said. “I don’t know how big a number, but it’s going to be in the hundreds of thousands. And if (moving the intersection) is never going to happen, I don’t see the point of spending this $20,000 … because I think we already know what the problem is.”

Skrivseth said the council will vote on whether to fund the study at its next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 23.