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Client Name
City of Iowa City
Client Type
Project Type
Services Provided
  • Master Planning
  • Streetscape Design
  • Topographic Survey & Subsurface Utility Engineering

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Key Gateway Feature in Iowa City

This project involves Iowa City streetscape improvements for S. Riverside Drive between U.S. Highway 6 and Myrtle Avenue. This half-mile corridor runs north to south paralleling the Iowa River and has three major intersections with a mix of well-established businesses and redevelopment sites. It serves as a key gateway into the Riverfront Crossings District and the University of Iowa campus.

Project Goals & Objectives

  • Enhancing the corridor character and identity through the use of placemaking strategies
  • Providing a friendlier and safer pedestrian experience

    A view of the riverside trail

  • Enhancing bicycle circulation and safety
  • Designing with consideration of existing and future development in mind
  • Minimizing maintenance needs and costs

Project Challenges

  • Existing right-of-way (ROW) constraints make improvements difficult until redevelopment occurs
  • Existing development proposed to change over the next several years
  • Overhead utilities prevalent along the corridor create unnecessary visual clutter and deter from the desired aesthetic
  • Lack of existing corridor identity, pedestrian amenities, and trail connectivity
  • As an Iowa Department of Transportation (IADOT) regulated roadway, all right-of-way improvements needed to meet the IADOT requirements for streetscape enhancements, including clear zones.

Encouraging Redevelopment & Creating a Pedestrian-Friendly Environment

Working with a diverse group of stakeholders, we prepared a master plan and implementation plan that encourages redevelopment in the area and creates a more pedestrian-friendly environment. Key challenges are addressed with a five-phase plan that allows the master plan to be implemented over time.

The design process was guided by meetings with city staff, business owners, and the general public. Input was collected to ensure everyone had opportunities to review designs and provide feedback. Three corridor design themes were developed and presented. A “river” theme inspired by the Iowa River was selected.

Significant Streetscape Improvements

Streetscape improvements include planters, decorative street and pedestrian lighting, wider and more consistent sidewalks, and intersection enhancements.

Specific materials such as limestone, dark bronze painted metal, and decorative pavers used throughout the streetscape help unify the corridor. Planters between the sidewalk and roadway provide a sense of separation between the pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Strong gateway features including monument signage, decorative pavement, and landscape improvements at the north and south ends of the corridor create a sense of arrival.

Increased pedestrian activity is expected as redevelopment continues. As a result, pedestrian crossing improvements are recommended at Myrtle Avenue, Benton Street, and Hwy 6 intersections. A railroad underpass through an existing railroad overpass provides a safer crossing and improved pedestrian circulation. Trail extensions along Benton Street provide a critical east to west link with the Iowa River Trail.