SIOUX CITY, IA (KSFY) - Many people have probably driven through the construction project on I-29 in Sioux City on their way to Omaha or even Kansas City. The last phase of it will begin this spring. The contractor will start removing a couple bridges in the next couple of weeks to get a jump start.
It's the biggest construction project Sioux City has ever seen since the interstate was originally built in the 1960s.
"In 1965, there were 4,000 vehicles on the interstate," Dakin Schultz said, who is a transportation planner for the Department of Transportation in Iowa. "We had an extensive rail system. There weren't near the trucks, and over the years, the interstate has seen its share in increase in traffic."
Planning for the project began in 1997.
"The infrastructure age was especially evident in some of the bridges," said Schultz. "We had operation issues, short merge opportunities and very high accident rate in the downtown."
Construction began in 2008, and it was originally scheduled to finish in 10 years. The flood in 2011 and some issues with the Floyd River channel bridge delayed construction. Schultz said he's been a part of the project since 2004.
"It's a labor of love," said Schultz.
The northbound lanes are complete, but the next phase is to work on the southbound lanes. Construction on the interstate is expected to finish by the end of 2019.
The entire project is expected to cost $400 million. Schultz said so far, it has stayed on budget. In the end, the interstate will have six lanes total, three in each direction.