Completed expansion of Route 63 still years away

There has been many rumors and much speculation over the proposed expansion of Route 63 between Ottumwa and Bloomfield, and when exactly that project is scheduled to get underway.

The project would eventually add two extra lanes to make the highway a four-lane road. The Iowa Department of Transportation received and approval of design in March 2009, but the project is still only in its early phases.

"We're still in the development phase, so it will take us another 18 months to two years just to have it to a point where we could probably acquire or purchase right away to construct four lanes through those limits," said Jim Armstrong, District Engineer of the Highway Division.

IDOT has contracts with two consulting firms, CH2M Hill and Snyder and Associates, for the preliminary design. CH2M Hill would construct the highway from Mary Street in Ottumwa to just south of the J15 intersection, commonly known as the Floris Turnoff.

Snyder and Associates will handle the stretch from the turnoff to just north of Bloomfield.

"However, we do not have an official project as far as purchasing land and actually constructing the roadway," Armstrong said.

The project will likely not be completed for at least five to ten years.