by Steve Peterson
Plymouth County has 365 miles of paved or improved roads.
On April 9, Plymouth County Engineer Tom Rohe presented his five-year road work project plan, which uses a variety of funding sources.
“A lot of the pavement projects started in the 1950s and were done through 1978,” said Rohe. “We’ve only added Key Road, west of Le Mars, and two miles on County Road K-18.”
“These roads were made for standards of 35 to 40 mph. Now we have standards of 55 mph and much more functionality in the shoulder,” he said. “The vehicles today are much heavier.”
Rohe is hopeful those who will be voting will support continued use of the county’s Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) in the Aug. 6 special election.
“We could use the LOST funds to replace more bridges,” said Rohe.
The state-funded gas tax issue of 22 cents has been a moving target for county road engineers, who as a group have been lobbying through Iowa State Association of Counties for a raise.
Rohe said he had been hoping for a state gas tax increase to help fund the road work but that has not been approved by the state legislature.
“The asphalt work costs $250,000 to $300,000 a mile,” said Rohe. “We’re doing less than half of what we used to do eight years ago.”
“We always like to have two federally-funded projects a year,” he told county supervisors.
“Can we convince ourselves and the public to borrow money for a few years to pay for it?” asked Supervisor Jack Guenthner. “I’m also looking at increased costs due to inflation and deterioration.”
“Given the current funding, it would take about eight years. We’re going to keep working on the projects the best we can,” said Rohe.
“We go by the condition of the bridge to determine if it needs to be replaced. We are required to inspect them every two years and some we do every 12 months,” said Rohe. “We have 440 bridges of 20 feet in length in the county. They range from 20 to 300 feet with the average of 80 to 120 feet.”
“Culverts cost about $199 to $110,000,” he said. “The smaller bridges — we like to replace the wooden bridges with culvert. In Fiscal Year 2013-2014, we have 14 culverts (to install). Some are by contract; others put in by our own crews.”
“The costs are always going up but not as much for bridges as with asphalt,” he said. “Anything energy related the costs are going up, and with asphalt it’s 6 to 7 percent a year. We only do asphalt projects every three or four years.”
Summer 2013 Projects
For the Akron and Westfield School District area, the road projects this summer are:
• Resurfacing three miles of County Roads K-42 and C-38 near Merrill, which have not been improved since 1986.
FY 2014 Projects
Projects in the Akron-Westfield School District area include:
• Fawn Avenue bridge replacement over Broken Kettle Creek, near 180th Street in Johnson Township, Section 17.
• Evergreen Avenue bridge replacement over Bull Run Creek, in Johnson Township, Section 30.
• County Road K-42 resurfacing the three miles from County Road C-38 near Merrill north to Iowa Highway 3 near Brunsville.
• County Road C-43 bridge deck overlay in Sioux Township, Section 22.
• County Road C-38 box culvert installation in Johnson Township Section 36.
• County Road K-13 resurfacing from Iowa Highway 3 to County Road C-38, four miles south of Akron;
• County Road C-16 resurfacing from Iowa Highway 12 east nine miles to County Road K-22;
• Merrill’s County Road K-42 from Fifth Street to County Road K-42 paving project in Plymouth Township Section 2.
• 130th Street bridge replacement in Preston Township Section 23.
• 120th Street bridge replacement in Portland Township Section 12. Thebridge was built in the 1960s.
• Key Avenue, near Le Mars, pipe culverts installed.
• 180th Street new box culvert in Johnson Township Section 18.
• County Road C-38 resurfacing three miles from County Road K-42 to Iowa Highway 75.
• County Road K-42 from Merrill to County Road C-38 paving.
FY 2015 projects
• Fawn Avenue bridge replacement over Bull Run Creek in Johnson Township Section 29, a federally-funded project.
• Evergreen Avenue bridge replacement in Liberty Township Section 6, a local project.
• Hedge Avenue bridge replacement over Perry Creek in Liberty Township Section 25.
• Granite Avenue bridge replacement in Johnson Township Section 15.
• 190th Street bridge replacement over Bull Run Creek in Johnson Township between Sections 16 and 21.
• Hedge Avenue bridge replacement in Preston Township between Sections 25 and 36.
• Hedge Avenue bridge replacement in Preston Township Section 36.
• 100th Street pipe culvert installation in Preston Township Section 3.
FY 2016 Projects
In 2015-2016 there are no road or bridge projects scheduled for the townships in the Akron-Westfield School District.
FY 2017 Projects
There are four projects scheduled in FY 2017 for the Akron-Westfield School District area:
• 190th Street bridge replacement over Broken Kettle Creek in Johnson Township Section 19.
• Concord Avenue bridge replacement with box culverts in Westfield Township Section 16.
• 200th Street bridge replacement in Westfield Township between Sections 23 and 26.
• Fawn Avenue box culverts installed from 190th Street to Fawn Avenue in Johnson Township Section 17.
FY 2018 Projects
Only one project in the Akron-Westfield School District area is scheduled for 2018:
• 120th Street bridge replacement in Preston Township Section 17.