By BILL SHEA
Fifth Avenue South near the Menards store will be altered next year in a bid to reduce accidents with the assistance of a newly awarded state grant of up to $500,000.
''This is brand new within the last couple of days,'' City Engineer Chad Schaeffer told the Fort Dodge City Council Monday.
That money will help pay for installing permanent traffic lights at the eastern driveway to the store at 3319 Fifth Ave. S. The lights that are there now were put up five years ago and were intended to be in place for just one year.
Some of the grant money will also be used to construct a right-hand turn lane at the store's western driveway. That lane will provide a way for eastbound vehicles to slow down and turn into the store without getting struck from behind.
Fifth Avenue South east of the store will be reduced to one lane of traffic in both directions, with a turning lane in the center of the road.
Scott Meinders, a civil engineer on the city staff, said switching from two lanes in each direction to just one lane ''tends to slow the traffic down.''
Meinders said the changes in the Menards area will be designed this winter and the work will be done next summer.
Councilman Mark Taylor asked if Menards has been asked to help pay some of the project costs.
Meinders said the company was not asked to contribute because the state grant will pay all of the costs.
The proposed work on that part of Fifth Avenue South was introduced during a meeting at which the council and the engineers reviewed projects for the coming year.
Among other things, the project list includes:
Meinders said the engineering staff will recommend hiring a firm with expertise in traffic signals and traffic flow to make recommendations for improvements in Fort Dodge. He said the company's recommendations would be the basis for updates to be done next summer.
A hydraulic analysis of the major storm sewer that drains water from downtown is also being proposed. The cost of that study is estimated at $35,000.