City Council approves public hearing to seek input on widening two streets

Matt Kuhns

Ames citizens interested in a proposal to widen part of Duff Avenue and 13th Street will have a chance to voice opinions on the issue at a public hearing on Jan. 11.

The hearing was approved unanimously by the Ames City Council Tuesday night following a presentation about the planned street improvement by Director of Public Works Paul Wiegand.

The plan would add left-turn lanes to Duff Avenue between 12th and 14th streets and to 13th Street from Douglas to Carroll avenues.

Wiegand said adding the turn lanes would mean moving back the adjacent property lines.

“If we proceed with a widening project … you need to add another 10 feet of pavement width,” Wiegand said.

Some residents who live along the affected streets already have expressed concern about the proposal.

“They don’t see the need for the intersection improvement,” Wiegand said.

The public hearing on the issue will allow anyone with concerns about the proposal to have an opportunity to express them to the city council.

Wiegand said if only one or two of the residents involved are opposed to widening the streets after the issue has been discussed, the city could force the objectors to comply through eminent domain.

In other business, the council awarded the contract for the River Valley Park Low Head Dam Slope Protection Project to Van Hauen & Associates of Clive.

Wiegand told the council that KRI Co. of Ames had submitted the lowest bid at $147,986.20 but had since withdrawn that bid because officials had made an error in estimating.

“If we re-bid [the contract], it would take a minimum of three to four weeks,” Wiegand said.

To prevent that delay, Wiegand recommended that the council accept Van Hauen’s bid of $188,000.

“We feel that it’s probably the best thing to do,” he said.

A request for a permit to install an awning at 229 Main St. led council member Sharon Wirth to call the city’s current policies on awnings into question.

“I have heard calls from five downtown business people being very upset” about an awning recently approved for Jimmy John’s at Main Street and Kellogg Avenue, Wirth said.

“The awning that was put up seriously defaces that building,” she said.

Wirth said allowing awnings conflicts with the city’s land-use plan, and she encouraged the council to vote against further requests.

Wirth voted against the request, which was approved by the rest of the council.