The city of Sioux Center, Iowa has partnered with the Iowa DOT to widen a three-lane portion of Highway 75 to five lanes. It runs right through the middle of town, and some folks along the route are shouting "hit the brakes!"
Gerald and Nel Wissink have lived along 75 for 23 years. They say traffic is close enough.
"We get enough noise as it is. You can hear it right now," said Gerald. "In the winter time, when the snowplows come by, we get snow thrown on to our front porch."
If the city carries through with plans to expand the nearly one mile section, the Wissinks say traffic would get up to seven feet closer.
"It's just going to be too close to the house," said Nel.
They're worried they'll lose trees, a chunk of their property, and say the five lanes could be dangerous for pedestrians.
"We're going to lose a few children, maybe some seniors," said Gerald.
On the flip-side, the city says the three-lane section has got to go because Sioux Center keeps getting bigger.
"Traffic counts keep growing, because our community keeps growing," said City Manager Paul Clousing.
Their research shows in less than a decade the highway will reach traffic capacity. When it does, the city says you can expect more congestion, delays, and safety concerns.
Administrators say a five-lane Highway 75 will be as safe as a three-lane, if not, safer. Traffic will have more space to move more efficiently. And pedestrians will have special cross walks, with warning lights and a safe zone in the middle lane.
"Then a pedestrian, really, just has to look across two lanes of traffic. Get to the safe zone. And go across the next two lanes of traffic," said Clousing.
None of it is easing the Wissinks' concerns though. They say they're going to fight to steer this road away from change.
"Leave it like it is, just leave it like it is," said Nel.
Instead of the widening, some have asked for a bypass or a truck route to be built. But city officials say the expansion is the best choice.
They hope to start construction in 2015. The $6.7 million price tag will be shared by city, state and federal governments.
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