RAGBRAI: What has Ames done to prepare?


Courtesy of the City of Ames


Devyn Leeson

Numerous road closures are planned in Ames as the city prepares for the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) just three days away.

As thousands of bike riders flow into Ames as early as 8 a.m. on July 24, University Boulevard, South Dakota Avenue, Mortensen Road, Beach Avenue, South Fourth Street and Sixth Street will have delays or complete closures.

Brad Becker, traffic supervisor for the City of Ames, said people on Tuesday and Wednesday would be best off entering the city from the North as all entrances into the city from Highway 30 would be “highly congested.”

“All of the off ramps in to Ames off of Highway 30 will be heavily congested with traffic so your best bet when coming to town, if you aren’t coming for the event, would be to comin in from the North,” Becker said. “If you don’t want to be delayed, then find a different route.”

Becker said riders will reach Ames early in the morning so Ames residents could have troubles commuting.

“On the in-route, we are expecting some early bikers around 8 a.m.,” Becker said. “We will most likely have things closed around 8 a.m. and opened back up around 6 p.m.”

The next morning, early commutes will be disrupted more heavily.

“People will start leaving around 5 or 6 a.m., so there could be heavy bike traffic from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.,” Becker said.

While they get here over the course of many hours, when they leave in the morning traffic will be heavily increased.

“Wednesday we will have to manage the way out, which is more difficult in some ways as they are leaving all at once,” said Ames Police Commander Geoff Huff.

The city will have the majority of intersections staffed with volunteers that will allow for people to pass when there is a gap in riders, but there is no guarantee people will be allowed through. It is best for commuters to avoid the route all together.

“We will not allow traffic along certain routes,” Becker said. “There is a certain route from the Ames Middle School to Ash Avenue where there will be no vehicular traffic all day long. Only some of the intersections will allow car traffic during the gaps of riders.”

The city has been doing more than just closing roads to prepare for RAGBRAI: They have been cleaning and fixing the roads on the route.

“We have known about the route since RAGBRAI released it obviously,” Becker said. “Since then we have gone along that route and patched everything.”

The Ames Police department has done preparing as well to ensure riders will be able to get in and out of Ames safely.

“Since they announced the route we have been working with all of the different city departments  in order to manage the route in and out,” Huff said. “It has been a many month process to prepare for 20,000 riders to come into Ames.”

Past 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Huff said riders will be more on their own as the roads open up again, but the police department will have officers around campgrounds and around downtown where many events will be taking place.

“[RAGBRAI] has hired twenty private security officers to cover the events and the Ames Police Department will have some of their officers working closely with them In case law enforcement is needed,” Huff said.

Huff said he is not expecting any issues with riders as “RAGBRAI is a pretty good group.”

The city will also be cleaning the streets along the route on Monday night and early Tuesday morning to make sure riders can safely make the journey through Ames.

On Tuesday, the specific roads that will be closed will be South Dakota Avenue and County Road R38 from 270th Street to Mortensen Road, Highway 30 off-ramp, westbound exit 144 on to South Dakota Avenue, Mortensen Road from Pinon Drive to Hayward Avenue and the northbound section of Beach Avenue.

On Wednesday, the roads to avoid will be the southbound portion of University Boulevard southbound from Sixth Street to South 16th Street, the eastbound section of South 16th Street from University Boulevard to Dayton Avenue and the northbound section of Dayton Avenue from Southeast 16th Street to East Lincoln Way.

People should also avoid South Fourth Street from Beach Avenue to University Boulevard between 7 p.m. July 23 to 10 p.m. July 24 and Sixth Street from University Boulevard to Brookridge Avenue between 6 a.m. July 24 to 11 a.m. July 25.