The mere mention of the Kimberly Road and Division Street intersection prompts a collective groan from residents, government officials and Davenport Public Works staff.

For a lengthy period of time, the busy intersection has been a traffic and public safety nightmare known for car stacking and rear-ending accidents. 

Starting Monday, Valley Construction will begin a four-month, $1.6 million improvement project to alleviate those long-term concerns.

"The geometry of the intersection needs to be updated with the traffic counts we have now," said Deputy Director Brian Schadt. "That left turn into the four commercial (businesses) on Division alone, by the time you hit the tabletop as you come up the hill, all of a sudden, boom, you have to stop and turn left. So, there's rear-ending."

Overall, the project, which is primarily being paid for through federal funds, is split into four construction phases that will run until late July.

Included in the project is widening north and southbound lanes of Division Street to accommodate dedicated turning lanes, installing new Americans with Disabilities Act ramps, sidewalks and medians on both Kimberly Road and Division Street and traffic signals.

"We're just trying to get more people through the intersection comfortably," Schadt said.

In the past year, the intersection has seen 23 accidents, 30 percent of which were rear-end related.

Several of the accidents were also related to motorists entering or exiting the CVS and Walgreens driveways off Division Street.

The first stage will run between Monday and March 27 to install a water main along the north lane of West 40th Street and crossing Rodeo Road.

It was originally scheduled to be completed by March 20, but Schadt said additional time was required to bring specialized equipment to the area. That extension is not expected to change the project's overall construction window.

With all the work to be done, a traffic mitigation plan has been put into place that may require some rerouting.

Average daily traffic counts maintained by the Iowa Department of Transportation in 2014 showed more than 14,000 vehicles traveling on Division and between 18,500 and 20,400 using Kimberly near the intersection.

From the end of March to the end of the May, Kimberly Road eastbound will be reduced to one lane and one turn lane as it approaches the Division Street intersection.

Division Street will be down to one lane in both north and south directions from 38th Street to 40th Street between the end of March and mid-July.

"The traveling public will definitely notice a difference, but they're trying to shoehorn as much as they can," Schadt said.

Despite the inconvenience, Schadt said the plan also tries to accommodate businesses because of their dependence of road access.

"While we are doing quite a bit of construction in the area, accesses to the businesses will remain open at all times," Schadt said.

Businesses, residents prep for work

For many who live and work in the area, the upcoming construction is no surprise.

For those who didn’t know, the placement Thursday of lighted sign boards, advising that work begins Monday, brought them up to speed.

Of the half-dozen workers and residents interviewed Thursday, all agreed the Kimberly and Division intersection is dangerous, and the addition of turn lanes will help with safety and traffic flow.

But no one looks forward to the long lines and confusion that frequently result from road construction at a busy intersection.

“I’m excited they’re doing it,” said Oliver Owens, district manager for Family Video, which has a store just south of the intersection. “The traffic gets backed up to our driveway during the busy times.

“The problem, of course, is that people tend to avoid construction, so I don’t expect it to have a good impact on business for a while.”

Across Division from the video store, the owner of Terri’s Dog Styling School has more serious concerns than short-term interruptions.

In addition to objecting to the city’s plans to take a couple of feet of her lawn for the street widening, owner Melissa Stalkfleet said she also is concerned about the median that is being placed in the middle of Division Street.

“What the median will do is prevent anyone from turning left into my business,” she said. “When I brought it up, the city people said medians make travel safer, but they said they forgot to bring their statistics.

“They advised me to tell my customers to go past and make a U-turn. I can’t tell an 80-year-old customer with a Schnauzer on his lap to do a U-turn.

“We average 100 cars, coming and going from here every day, so things will really change for us.”

But the change is not without benefit, Stalkfleet said.

“It will fix the terrible angle where my drive meets Division,” she said. “And the intersection is really bad.”

Several residents in the area agreed, saying they have seen many crashes, and the widening should help. But traffic in the interim will be painful.

A woman walking her dog near Division at Cheyenne Court said she worries about motorists in her neighborhood trying to avoid the intersection by shooting west to Pine Street, which is a two-lane road with no lighted crossing.

Another nearby resident, Nick Fowler, said he shares the concern about arterial roads becoming congested as motorists avoid Kimberly and Division.

“We have a lot of schools around here,” he said. “There are times of day, in the morning and afternoons, when things are pretty bad. A lot of kids are walking around, too.”

But, again, the payoff will be in the improvement, he said. “I can for sure say that it needs to be done. And it could be worse. From what I understand, the whole thing is supposed to be done in, like, four or five months.

“We’ve all seen much longer road-construction projects than that. We just have to grin and bear it.”

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