Friday, March 26, 2021

A path no longer taken ....

I came across the other day this 1898 snapshot of the old underpass on Chariton's South Main Street, passing under what now are the Burlington, Northern & Santa Fe tracks and allowing direct access from the southwest corner of the square to the Chariton Cemetery and got to wondering when the traffic pattern had changed.

You're looking southwest here from a point west of the intersection of Woodlawn Avenue and South Grand. The house on the other side of the tracks is the old Penick house, replaced after a long-ago fire by the one-story house now owned by the Daniel Kaspar family. Southgate Apartments now are just beyond.

The answer is 1934. During that year the Iowa Highway Commission obtained public works funding for the project that created the current Highway 14 underpass some distance to the southeast and the broad curve that now leads from the south onto Woodlawn as the highway winds through town. The project also involved a good deal of paving --- from Grace Avenue on the south edge of town to the current intersection of South Grand, Woodlawn and Highway 14 just north of the new underpass.

The previous underpass, far too narrow to serve 20th century needs, was demolished and filled during 1935 and traffic has been following the same pattern, more or less, ever since.

Here's a brief report, from The Leader of May 15, 1934, about the beginning of the new project:

Work was slated to start this afternoon on removal of dirt from beneath the Burlington railroad near the corner of Woodlawn avenue and Grand street where a new subway is to be constructed this summer.

Contract for removal of the dirt, 2,695 yards, was let to the Kaser Construction Co. The successful bid was 58 cents per yard.

A "fill" will be made on the south of the subway structure with the dirt removed.

Work on the subway by the Alexander-Repass Co. is already underway and is expected to make a rapid advance as soon as the other project is finished.

Sixteen local men have been employed for an average of 30 hours a week on the public works job and it is expected that more will be placed with the enlargement of activities. Contracts for paving the new route of Highway 14 and the balance of the grading are to be let soon.

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