Heartland Highway Corridor plan nearing completion
Some 28 counties and communities along U.S. Highways 34 and 63, and Iowa Highway 163 are banding together to enter into a coalition, termed the Heartland Highway Corridor, to ensure safe passage along the corridor, according to Zach James, planning director with the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission in Burlington.
Henry County is one of the partners along with the cities of New London, Mt. Pleasant and Rome. Neighboring communities include Danville, Fairfield, Batavia and Lockridge.
James said the group began meeting in the spring of 2009, hosting public meetings for input that year in Mt. Pleasant, Ottumwa and Burlington. “The purpose is to protect the corridor for safety purposes,” he explained.
“It has been pretty well received,” he continued. “The counties and communities realize that having a highway is a pretty important economic development tool.”
One of the goals of the group is to ensure a smooth traffic flow on the highways (all of which are four lane) and to protect the corridor from an inordinate number of stoplights.
The purpose of the plan “is to define parameters for transportation management, access management, land use and development characteristics along the Heartland Highway Corridor within the limits defined.” The defined corridor runs along U.S. Highway 34, U.S. Highway 63, Iowa Highway 163 from the Iowa/Illinois border on the east and extending west/northwest to U.S. Highway 65 in Pleasant Hill.
Heartland’s plan is not to identify specific projects, rather, its purpose is to establish guidelines which will promote developing a safe and efficient four-lane highway with uninterrupted traffic flow and which will enhance and sustain economic development, culture and tourism along the corridor. Heartland’s members intend to use the plan as a tool for managing economic development along the aforementioned highways.
The general standards for management of the Heartland Highway Corridor are as follows:
• Future full direct access to the Heartland Highway Corridor will not be allowed. All new development along the highway shall use the existing public road system (non-highway) for access to the highway through the use of access roads. Maintenance and improvements on the existing local roadway system (non-highway) will be required for providing access to new developments along the highway due to limited direct access onto the Heartland Highway Corridor.
• Existing city and county land use and development regulations shall be updated to provide support for proper access control. Regulations should focus on developing nodes at existing intersections of the highway and the local roadway system, not allowing new access to the Heartland Highway, and requiring the use of the existing local roadway system for access through the use of access roads.
For more on this story, see the November 18 issue of the Mt. Pleasant News.