CBJ Report: Construction on Mount Vernon-Lisbon Bypass begins

Excavation and utility relocation has begun for the four-mile Mount Vernon-Lisbon Bypass on Highway 30, setting a three-year construction process in motion. (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.

Construction on Mount Vernon-Lisbon Bypass begins

Excavation and utility relocation has begun for the four-mile Mount Vernon-Lisbon Bypass on Highway 30, setting a three-year construction process in motion.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has acquired more than 350 acres of right-of-way in Linn and Cedar counties for the $94 million project.

Work this construction season will include most of the excavation for the four-lane divided highway that is separate from the existing route, along with the construction of three bridge structures that will bring county roads across the bypass, according to Doug McDonald, Iowa DOT District 6 construction engineer.

Traffic on Highway 30 will not be disrupted by this summer's construction, Mr. McDonald said. Paving contracts are scheduled for award in July 2018, allowing paving to potentially begin in the fall of 2018, and be completed during the 2019 construction season.

The project will relocate Highway 30 south of its existing route, eliminating traffic slow-downs and dangers from turning movements, and move it away from public schools in Mount Vernon and Lisbon. It will also eliminate the need for east-west traffic on the bypass to traverse the two new roundabouts in Mount Vernon.

Interchanges will be constructed in both Mount Vernon and Lisbon to provide local access. Mr. McDonald said excavation is being carried out by three contractors because the amount of excavating work required for the project is so large that it would limit the number of contractors with the capacity to bid on the work.

SwineTech founders win a Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

University of Iowa graduate students who founded SwineTech have been selected among the $10,000 winners in the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize competition for the most inventive college students.

The Lemelson-MIT Program this week announced the winners of $115,000 in prizes to four undergraduate teams and five individual graduate inventors. Each winning team of undergraduates received $10,000, and each graduate student winner received $15,000. The winners were selected from a applicants from colleges and universities nationwide.

Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza of SwineTech were selected as a Lemelson-MIT “Eat-It” graduate team winner for their company’s SmartGuard device. SwineGuard monitors the temperature in the crate and adjusts it to optimize the health environment for the piglet. The proprietary technology also detects when a piglet experiences unusual external pressure that could lead to suffocation, and then activates a belt on the sow, causing her to move, relieving the pressure. It will allow farmers to receive real-time health analysis of each sow and whether any abnormal activities are occurring within the facility.

“The 2017 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners show exceptional inventiveness and creativity in solving real world problems,” Stephanie Couch, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program, stated in a press release. “Through their outstanding accomplishments and commitment to mentoring younger students, these promising inventors are inspiring a new generation of problem-solvers.”

Along with the Eat It category, student teams were awarded prizes in the categories Use It, Cure It, and Drive It. Screeners and judges assessed candidates on breadth and depth of inventiveness and creativity; potential for societal benefit and economic commercial success; community and environmental systems impact; and experience as a role model for youth.

Record Collector braces for Record Store Day boom

Music sales will be at full volume at one shop in the Corridor this weekend, but the demand won't be driven by digital downloads or even CDs.

Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day, an international celebration of independent music stores that launched in 2008.??On the big day, independent record stores throughout the world will carry exclusive and early releases of both small and major artists, in addition to organizing concerts and special in-store appearances.

In addition to carrying select LPs and EPs, Record Collector in Iowa City will host performances by local artists Brad Highnam and Brooks Strause starting at 3 p.m. The store will be open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Owner Kirk Walther estimated that his store does 10 times more business on Record Store Day than on a typical Saturday, easily surpassing even the busiest days of the holiday shopping season.??"This just beats anything, hands down," Mr. Walther said. "It's incredible."

Even with last fall's opening of Analog Vault in Cedar Rapids, Record Collector is still one of the Corridor's only dedicated record stores.??Despite the small number of shops to buy vinyl records locally, vinyl sales nationally continue to climb. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), retail sales revenue for LPs and EPs has increased every year since 2005. In fact, since 2011, sales have grown from an estimated $119.4 million to nearly $430 million in 2016-the highest grossing year for vinyl record sales since 1988.

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