The next few months could be long and frustrating ones for people trying to travel through Cedar Rapids on I-380. A project that started a few weeks ago, had a huge impact on traffic for the first time Thursday with other projects in the city adding to travel woes.

Work on a new bridge decking overlay near H Avenue has already shifted lanes on Interstate 380, and it brought northbound travel delays on Thursday from the H Avenue/J Street area back to the Cedar River. If you've been on the northbound side of the interstate north of downtown Cedar Rapids recently, you've undoubtedly noticed a lane is being built through the median and continuing next to a concrete barrier on the southbound side of the interstate.

That lane is being built for a detour that will take northbound vehicles through the median to continue their travels for about a half-mile before being taken back across the median and returned to the normal northbound side. Not everyone will have to take that temporary lane, however, as one other northbound lane will remain open.

The construction manager for the Iowa Department of Transportation's District 6, Steven McElmeel, told the Gazette the two inside lanes of I-380 northbound will be closed initially. When that work is complete, the pair of outside lanes will be shut down.

On the southbound side of I-380 in that area, what you see now is what will remain. There are still three lanes, they're just shifted over to the right, utilizing what's normally the shoulder of the interstate for one of the lanes.

The I-380 southbound on-ramp at H Avenue will stay closed throughout the project. Sometime during the second half of September, the off-ramp from I-380 northbound to H Avenue/J Street will also close.

The Gazette reports that Catherine Cutler, one of the Iowa DOT district transportation planners, says approximately 87,000 vehicles travel the area under construction each day.

When there's a big project like this, or an accident on I-380 on any given day, many people like to take other routes. One of those, First Avenue, is also under construction, making that choice anything but ideal right now.

The I-380 bridge decking overlay project should help save us from bigger issues, and travel woes, down the road. We'll have to do our best to remember that over the next few months because the project likely won't be completed until November.

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