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Population Boom Means Infrastructure Updates

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- Maybe more people just want to be Hawkeyes these days. 
According to new numbers released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the population growth rate is going up in Iowa, while trend has slowed nationwide. Iowa's population has increased by more than 15,000 people between July 2012 and July 2013. 
Considering last year's growth, Iowa's population sits at nearly 3.1 million people. 
North Liberty is the second fastest growing city in the state, where the population growth is a boon to businesses, and also local city engineers, who have to figure out how to move all of these new people through the area. 
For Kelly Crawford, it's meant the ability to open up her dream pub. 
"The opportunity presented itself, so I pursued a dream and, now, here I am," Crawford said. 
Her pub, Rocky O'Brien's, is named after her great grandfather, a wily-sounding man from Ireland. But it sits on Highway 965 in North Liberty. 
All of the development and new neighborhoods have been great for business, Crawford said, but the local infrastructure needs to catch up. 
Luckily, that is starting to happen. 
North Liberty completed a renovation project on 965 earlier this year, and the city of Coralville is about to widen Coral Ridge Avenue from two to four lanes, from Holiday Road north to Oakdale Boulevard. 
"There has been a lot of coordination going back many, many years, because we saw this coming," said Coralville assistant city engineer Scott Larson. 
Because of that, Coralville will also be coordinating traffic lights on Highway 6, to better control the flow of cars off of 965. 
The city will also be renovating the final stretch of First Avenue between 6th and 9th Streets. Larson predicts the project will be done by the end of summer. 
"We hear from people, and they want to see those roads improved, so like I said, we're always trying to find a way to get it done," Larson said. 
The biggest issue is finding the funding to make it all happen, so cities often work piecemeal to make improvements over a long period of time. Coralville is getting $3.4 million of the $5 million project cost from the Iowa Department of Transportation to widen the highway at Holiday Road. That means widening the road at other places will have to wait until more money is available, Larson said. 
"Which is great for us, because people might just want to get out of the traffic and come here and hang out, have a beer," Crawford said. 

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