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Improvements are planned for a stretch of South Riverside Drive to make it more pedestrian-friendly.

Assistant City Engineer Scott Sovers said the city intends to extend a 6-foot sidewalk south from the intersection of South Riverside Drive and Myrtle Avenue so it connects with a sidewalk already on the west side of South Riverside Drive.

There’s just one obstacle — an 80-foot-wide embankment supporting an Iowa State Rail line that crosses South Riverside Drive. So, the city plans to tunnel through it.

Sovers said the tunnel and sidewalk improvements are necessary to improve pedestrian safety.

“What is happening now is people get to the end of the sidewalk on the south side of the embankment because they’re presumably moving north on Riverside Drive and they cut between the curb and embankment,” Sovers said. “It’s fairly close (to the street) there. Pedestrians are too close to traffic. We’re trying to provide a safe walk for pedestrians to use.”

An 8-foot-by-9-foot tall tunnel through the embankment will keep pedestrians away from the street. The tunnel also will be lighted, Sovers said.


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