The first phase of the Highway 100 extension on Cedar Rapids west side hasn't opened to vehicular traffic yet, but we were able to take a trip down it to give you the first look.

Cathy Cutler, Transportation Planner for the Iowa Department of Transportation's 6th District, took me for a drive down the Highway 100 extension from Edgewood Road to Covington early Saturday afternoon, prior to the 1 p.m. ribbon cutting.

The extension, in the plans for more than 50 years, finally began its path to completion in 2013. Cutler tells me that was the year they started to rebuild the pond for the blanding turtles that lived where the extension would be built. Blanding turtles live in water and are an endangered species. The turtles winter home is on the south side of the new roadway and their summer home is on the north side. A culvert under the roadway allows them to travel safely between the two bodies of water. Ornate box turtles also live in the area. In the photo gallery below you'll see the special fencing that surrounds the roadway in that area. The 8-foot fencing is to keep deer away from the road in that area, while the mesh-like fencing at the bottom prevents the turtles from making their way onto the new roadway.

You'll notice in the video, the first part of the extension west of Edgewood Road, was built for its "urban setting," as Cutler called it. It's complete with curb and gutter. As you near the end of the video, the roadway goes from a concrete barricade in the middle to a "rural setting." There's an actual median in the roadway at that point, currently with erosion barriers.

Cutler says the roadway is all but ready for traffic and she says the DOT is confident they will have it open by mid-December. This portion of the construction is on budget and phase two could be completed by as early as late-2018. It will finish the connection from Highway 30 to Edgewood Road, that many thought might never come. Cutler says the DOT believes, when complete, the Highway 100 extension will carry more than 10,000 vehicles per day as an alternative to Interstate 380 and Edgewood Road.

Following a 1 p.m. ribbon cutting, bicyclists, runners, and walkers took to the pavement for the first time. When drivers get on it in the near future, the speed limit will be 65 miles-per-hour.

[via Wikipedia]