Slow down or take an alternate route are the best ways to deal with the construction traffic on Davenport’s East River Drive, city officials say.
The speed limit through the construction zone is reduced to 25 mph for safety reasons. Traffic through the construction zone is heaviest during morning and afternoon rush-hour times.
“It is one lane in each direction,” city traffic engineer Gary Statz said Tuesday. “You have some curves and walls to deal with there. It would be tough to stay in the lane going 40 mph.”
When River Drive is open, about 25,000 vehicles pass through the intersection at Mound Street daily, according to Iowa Department of Transportation traffic data.
Rather than slow down or go a different way, Dave Sweet, one of the owners of The Boat House, offers a third option: stop at his restaurant. The restaurant saw its business drop precipitously while East River Drive was completely closed to traffic for four months.
“It is like they opened the front door,” Sweet said of how business has picked up in just a few days since traffic returned. “We have direct access and traffic.”
Diners have steadily returned since traffic was restored Friday and the Oneida Avenue intersection is no longer blocked, Sweet said.
“Friday night was pretty good,” he said. “Saturday was OK. Sunday, we had a very nice increase from what we had all summer.”
While Sweet said the intersection at Oneida still is tricky because traffic is rerouted about half a block, the biggest hangup along East River Drive is at Mound Street. Even with a left-turn arrow, traffic is still backing up at times.
“Yes, it does slow things down considerably, but with the traffic movements, it is the only way we can have a left turn in head-to-head traffic,” Public Works director Mike Clarke said. “Obey the 25 mph speed limits. When everyone speeds up, it is stop-and-go, but when it is slower, things go more smoothly.”
The Mound Street light’s timing can’t be tweaked much, if at all, Clarke and Statz said.
Other streets between Oneida Avenue and the Bettendorf border are blocked to River Drive traffic for safety and traffic reasons, Statz explained.
“If people try to get onto River Drive from there, it would be difficult,” he said. “We just can’t have anyone turning left and causing congestion.”
Clarke advises drivers to take an alternate route or slow down through the construction zone.
“Have patience and enjoy the ride,” he said.