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Road of Honor project underway in Keokuk

Mayor Kathie Mahoney addressed the crowd that attended the Road of Honor groundbreaking ceremony at the entrance to Keokuk National Cemetery.
Will Buss
Mayor Kathie Mahoney addressed the crowd that attended the Road of Honor groundbreaking ceremony at the entrance to Keokuk National Cemetery.

Keokuk is beginning work on what city leaders say is no ordinary road project.

18th Street in the southeast Iowa community leads to the only national cemetery in the state. The city has given the street the honorary designation of the Road of Honor.

But 18th Street is in rough shape. It has never received a proper resurfacing – it’s only been patched up through the years.

Now, however, Mayor Kathie Mahoney said Keokuk has issued bonds to pay for road repairs. A good chunk of the money will be put toward the $3.4 million Road of Honor project.

“In honor of the veterans and the Keokuk National Cemetery, that was the first choice of roads to assure a safe trip and a comfortable trip,” Mahoney said.

The city is also receiving $960,000 in federal grants for the Road of Honor.

Republican Iowa Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks helped secure the federal grants. She spoke about the project on the House floor last week.

“My office was able to deliver federal community project funding to repave the road so that Iowans could properly honor our departed veterans,” Miller-Meeks said.

“As a 24-year army veteran, it is a privilege and an honor to recognize the Road of Honor and Keokuk National Cemetery on the House floor.”

She thanked Iowa State Senator Jeff Reichman and State Representative Martin Graber for bringing the project to her attention, and praised Mayor Mahoney for her assistance in helping secure the federal funding.

The seven-block stretch will be closed while the work is done.

Weather permitting, it should be completed by the end of the year.

More about Keokuk National Cemetery

The Keokuk National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 6,000 veterans dating back to the American Civil War.

The burial ground was established during the Civil War at the same time as Arlington National Cemetery, and was the first national cemetery west of the Mississippi River.

Several military hospitals were established in and around Keokuk during the war, and many wounded soldiers were transported up the river to Keokuk.

48 unknown soldiers are buried in the cemetery.

Keokuk National Cemetery covers more than 22 acres and is located adjacent to Oakland Cemetery, a public cemetery established in 1851.

The Keokuk National Cemetery was placed on the Register for National Historic Places in 1997.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.