Construction on several downtown projects around the state has been accelerated due to reduced foot and vehicle traffic created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers in Cedar Falls are replacing decades-old bricks in the area known as the Parkade. City Communications Specialist Amanda Huisman says it’s part of a plan that also includes pedestrian hubs with benches and bike racks.

“Instead of doing say from the front of the business to the curb completely, we’re redoing the eight-foot walk directly in front of the businesses first, so that by the time businesses reopen, it’s going to be a lot easier for customers and guests to maneuver around downtown,” she explains. Huisman says this phase of the project is expected to wrap up in November.

Iowa City Public Works Director Ron Knoche says the lack of extra student traffic from the university allowed his crews to tackle a maintenance project on one of the river bridges. “We were able to move forward with that project a little sooner and it was a full closure of Burlington Street, so it was something that we were dreading but because of (classes) being canceled and the local school districts being closed, it really opened that window up for us to be able to do that project,” Knoche says.

Knoche says his job these days is 100 percent easier with he reduced traffic. He says the street will open to limited traffic next Friday.

(By Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio)