Wilton to widen Fifth Street

$7 million overhaul does NOT include roundabout or stop light at intersection of Fifth St. and Hwy 38


The City of Wilton is planning a $7 million overhaul of Fifth St., which will both widen and revamp the community’s main drag that doubles as an entrance from Hwy 38.

As for that entrance in particular:

“There is no plan for a roundabout, it’ll just be like it is now,” says City Administrator Jeff Horne.

“Fifth St. is going to be wider, but there’s nothing special about that intersection.”

There could be a wider turn radius, but there’s no plan for anything beyond the use of stop signs at the intersection, just as it is now.

Specifically, construction will take place on Fifth St. from Hwy 38 to Liberty St. The goal is to bid out the project in April 2025 and begin construction in June 2025 on the 7/10-mile road.

“The idea is to improve traffic flow,” says Horne. The two-lane street will be widened to three lanes, allowing for a turn lane in the middle.

The long-term overhaul of the street has been in the works by the city for a while to improve the commercial area and create a better aesthetic coming into town.

Most know Fifth St. as the main entrance to Wilton from the west. As a highly traveled street, it has many businesses built up along the route.

In fact, Fifth St. has been labeled as a Major Collector Road by the federal government, meaning it links nearby larger towns or cities.

In this case, Fifth St. becomes Kimberly St. in Davenport, Iowa, resulting in a fair amount of regional traffic during the day.

However, the section between Hwy 38 and Liberty St. is crumbling.

“The street is coming apart right now if you look at it,” says Horne, “I’ve been debating if we need a short-term project to stabilize the street for the next year.”

“That stretch is nearing the end of its life; if you look, there’s break-up along the sides,” he adds. “The thought of the council is to do a long-term overhaul.”

Reconstruction will result in a better aesthetic and include a walking trail on the north side of the street, big enough to accommodate walking and bicycle traffic.

The path will be similar to the one being built on Division St. right now.

“We’re also getting a new water main in there because that’s been problematic,” says Horne. “Out in front of Casey’s, the water main has broken several times.”

Speaking of the surrounding businesses, the expansion of Fifth St. will not take any of their land; the land surrounding the street is already owned by the city.

Administrator Horne says the city has been in contact with the businesses that will be affected by the reconstruction and plans to hold more meetings in the future.

That being said, reconstruction will hinder traffic.

Wate and Third St. will be impacted the most as alternative routes. While the hope is to maintain its use, there will be times portions of the street will be closed down completely.

“It’ll change at times depending on the project; we’ll be figuring out access for the businesses being affected,” said Horne.

While the $7 million price tag may be a bit daunting, the truth is Wilton is sitting in a good place to take on the project. Part of that reason is Iowa Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

“Recently, Congresswoman Miller-Meeks secured $2 million in funding for the Wilton Fifth Street Gateway Project,” stated her office. “For an area with a population of just under 3,000 people, $2 million is an incredible feat!”

As part of region 9, Wilton would have been competing with several nearby counties and cities for project funding from the Iowa DOT, a lengthy process.

“It would have been five years out before we got any money,” says Administrator Horne. “So, we requested her assistance, and we were happy to get it. We thank her for it.”

The remaining $5 million will come from taxes collected by the city; however, it will not require taxes to go up.

“The city has done great planning for this project,” says Horne, “We have some expiring bonds so the time of this means we will be able to maintain a steady debt levy.”

Basically, the city is finishing up paying off several loans, freeing it to take on the Fifth Street project without increasing costs to the city or its citizens.

“This is the result of good planning by my predecessor, the city council and the mayor over the last several years,” adds Horne.

As of right now, the city has the go-ahead from the Iowa Department of Transportation to begin the project. Plans have been put together by Tim Cutsforth of HR Greens.

“We’re trying to give the business a heads-up; most of them know this is coming, but we haven’t been able to get ahold of everyone yet,” says Horne.

“Once we get the date better nailed down, things like that, we’ll probably have another meeting before the end of the year,” he adds.