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Council seeks to get ahead of future traffic congestion

Tiffin sees road block on temporary access

TIFFIN– The City of Tiffin is still looking for a way out.
With another planned development north of Highway 6 consisting of more than 100 residential lots, people who live off Deer View Avenue are concerned about future traffic.
The city council has discussed the issue in its recent meetings after hearing from citizens that anticipated increased traffic from new development Tiffin Heights will cause congestion, and that illegal parking– particularly from construction vehicles– on both sides of Deer View Avenue has created potential traffic and safety hazards.
After brainstorming ways to alleviate those concerns, at least short-term, the council suggested developer Jason Dumont put in a temporary construction access off Highway 6. The city’s request was the first step in a longer process of asking permission from the Iowa Department of Transportation.
However, the council learned last Wednesday that Dumont’s attorney advised against the temporary construction access due to liability issues.
It left the council with nowhere to turn.
“(Dumont) is interested in working with the city in potentially widening Deer View with a left turn lane,” said Tiffin Mayor Steve Berner. “He’s willing to work to help with the traffic flow; he understands the issue.”
Council member Peggy Upton was skeptical, and most of the council members agreed.
“I don’t think a turn lane is going to solve the problem,” Upton said, and councilman Mike Ryan concurred.
“Most of the traffic is going to be turning left anyway,” said Ryan. “It’s already a collector. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t know that it’s worth the expense. If there was an emergency of some kind, an extra turn lane is not going to help that.”
“Yes, it’s getting out of Deer View that the neighbors see as an issue,” Berner agreed. “When you get 50 people building houses there at one time, that’s when it’s going to be bad.”
“With the school there, the traffic on Highway 6 is (already) a big problem, let alone with all the new housing,” said councilor Jo Kahler.
The city could build its own access street toward the north to give residents of Deer View subdivision, and eventually Tiffin Heights, another way out, Berner said, but it would be at the city’s expense without any contribution from the developer.
“This is a pretty good size problem,” said Upton.
“I think that people have a legitimate concern,” Ryan added. “Can we ask our engineers to give us a cost estimate to finish the street north to Blue Jay? Then we know what kind of money we are talking about.”
Complicating the matter further is the status of Highway 6 with the Iowa DOT. Cities are required to have approved access plans on each U.S. highway that goes through them. Though Tiffin’s access plan was submitted in 2007, the DOT never approved it, though no one seems to know why, or how it was overlooked for 14 years.
Therefore, the city council determined it would be prudent to review and update its access plan before re-submitting it to the DOT for approval.
“We might as well have them approve an updated one as opposed to the outdated one,” Upton explained.
The council considered the action for city engineers from Hart Frederick to update the plan, but the engineers could not provide a cost estimate for the work.
“There is probably not a great sense of urgency for this,” Upton noted. “We could adjourn this item until we can get a cost estimate and re-write the resolution (to reflect the cost and reason behind the update).”
Upton’s motion to do so was met with unanimous approval. The council expected to discuss the matter again at its June 25 meeting.