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CBJ Report: DOT nearing decision on $15.4M for Tower Terrace interchange

The initial funding scenario for the state's next five-year highway plan to be presented in draft form next month includes $15.4 million for construction of the long-awaited I-380/Tower Terrace Road interchange. (CBS2/FOX28)

Every week, the Corridor Business Journal shares stories it's working on with CBS 2 News. Here are some of their top stories that will appear in Monday's edition of the CBJ.

DOT nearing decision on $15.4M for Tower Terrace interchange

The initial funding scenario for the state's next five-year highway plan to be presented in draft form next month includes $15.4 million for construction of the long-awaited I-380/Tower Terrace Road interchange.

Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) staff have recommended in the scenario that the interchange receive the funding in fiscal year 2020, according to Stuart Anderson, director of planning and programming for the DOT. He said the scenario has been reviewed by the Iowa Transportation Commission at three workshops in preparation for the May 9 release of a five-year transportation program for public comment. A final plan will be up for consideration when the commission meets June 9 at the Coralville Marriott.

The Tower Terrace interchange has been pursued by Cedar Rapids metro transportation planners as a way to take pressure off the I-380/Boyson Road interchange, but it's also key to making Tower Terrace Road a major east-west arterial across the metro area from Hiawatha to Marion. Mr. Anderson said the initial funding scenario also proposes funding for ramp improvements at the Boyson/I-380 interchange in 2018 to reduce traffic congestion.

Among the investments the interchange's construction could unlock are a Hy-Vee Store proposed about five years ago for Tower Terrace Road and C Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids.

The city of Marion is also getting close to completing construction of Tower Terrace Road to its western city limits in anticipation of providing residents with better access to I-380 and stimulating development on the city's north side.

Affordable housing project resurrected on Edgewood Road

Minneapolis-based CommonBond Communities has resurrected plans nixed by the Cedar Rapids City Council last year for a 45-unit affordable housing project on a site at 1200 Edgewood Road NW.

In a process called "succession," CommonBond petitioned the Cedar Rapids Planning Commission on April 6 to reconsider its rezoning and site plan request rejected by the city council on Oct. 25 after more than 500 residents signed a petition against it that required an extra margin of support on the council for passage.

Changes in CommonBond's Crestwood Ridge project included an underground cistern and biocells to capture stormwater runoff, a reduction in parking spaces from 90 to 75, a right-hand turn lane from Edgewood Road southbound onto Crestwood Drive and a larger playground with more parking space. CommonBond said it would also fund a sidewalk along the north side of Crestwood Drive from the fire station to 38th Street NW for pedestrian safety.

Succession of a project is "very seldom used," City Land Use Coordinator Vern Zakostelecky said. The commission tried to focus comments by more than a half-dozen neighborhood residents still opposed to the project on the term "significant changes," and whether those proposed by CommonBond were significant. CommonBond said it would invest some $200,000 more in the project to pay for the changes.

Neighborhood residents who opposed the project voiced a variety of objections, many of them centering on the density of the project, and whether it was compatible with surrounding single-family homes and the topography of the area. Only one commission member, Dominique Blank, voted against allowing the succession, however, which allows a rezoning request to go back to city council for reconsideration.

The project differs from most in having a 10 percent housing set-aside for the homeless, a feature that helped it to receive an allocation of $8 million in federal tax credits.

B/E Aerospace becomes Rockwell Collins Interior Systems

The acquisition of B/E Aerospace by Rockwell Collins was finalized last week, completing a deal that will bring Rockwell Collins' employment to 30,000 and add a new Interior Systems business focused on aircraft cabin furnishings and fixtures.

The deal, totaling $8.6 billion in payment and assumed debt, is the largest in Rockwell Collins' 85-year history. It increases Rockwell Collins' annual revenue to more than $8 billion on a 2016 pro-forma basis.

Rockwell Collins said B/E Aerospace will immediately come under the Rockwell Collins brand. As previously announced, former B/E Aerospace president and CEO Werner Lieberherr became the executive vice president and COO of Rockwell Collins Interior Systems, reporting to chairman and CEO Kelly Ortberg.

B/E Aerospace brings a global manufacturing platform, which includes considerable manufacturing capacity in the United States. Its main product lines are seating, food and beverage preparation and storage equipment, lighting and oxygen systems, and modular galley and lavatory systems.

“Today marks a major step in advancing our vision of being the most trusted source of aviation and high-integrity solutions in the world," Mr. Ortberg stated in a press release. "The industry-leading products and solutions being brought together by this acquisition give us a much broader offering, increasing value for our customers and ultimately driving long-term, profitable growth and shareowner value."

Rockwell Collins issued $4.65 billion in bonds to partially fund the acquisition, according to an SEC filing Monday.

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