After 18 months of construction, a much-anticipated highway interchange is ready to open in Black Hawk County.

Weather permitting, the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) plans to open the newly-built U-S Highway 218/County Road C-57 (Cedar Wapsi Road) interchange near Janesville by noon on Friday (Oct. 14, 2016). IDOT officials initially announced that the interchange would be unblocked on Thursday, then decided to delay opening.

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson launched the push for the interchange in 2011 because deputies were responding to a high number of serious crashes caused, in part, by the growing amount of traffic in that area. IDOT statistics show an average of 20,000 vehicles per day travel that stretch of Highway 218 between Cedar Falls and Waverly and that figure is expected to increase to 40,000 by 2040.

State and local officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the interchange last month. According to IDOT, the project came in under budget at $14.4 million. Construction began on April 1, 2015.

In the future, access to U.S. 218 between Cedar Falls and Janesville will be via interchanges only. Starting Friday night, the at-grade intersection from Mount Vernon Road, Bennington Road and Gresham Road will be permanently closed. IDOT officials said work to remove those intersections will require intermittent nighttime lane closures, occasional daytime lane closures during off-peak hours and shoulder closures on U.S. 218.

Work to close the at-grade intersections is expected to be completed by early November, weather permitting.