BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – About 10 residents who live near the 255th Street on the western edge of Lee County want supervisors to stop putting off rehabbing the road.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, the residents voiced concerns for about an hour over the dangerous conditions of the road and how long the county has been delaying resurfacing the road.
The street in question starts on the east at the turn off Hwy. 61 south of Fort Madison at the turn off for the Lee County Sheriff’s department. The road then runs west across Hwys. 218 and 27 and into Croton.
Stephen Pohren, a former Lee County Secondary Roads employee from Croton, voiced his concerns over the condition of the road.
“I really believe it’s time that this road is graded and hard-surfaced because all the traffic’s got to filter in there from all the other roads,” Pohren said.
“The county has torn up hard surface roads and regraded them over the past 40 years that I’d be proud to drive on. They’ve torn ’em up and repaved ’em and graded the road and everything and I think we’ve waited too long. I know it’s gonna cost a lot of money, but I think it’s time.”
County Engineer Ben Hull said it would cost about $12 million to resurface the road with concrete, but he said that surface would last. He said to grade and pave roads is about $1.5 million per mile and the stretch in question is about seven miles long west of Hwy. 27. He said a bridge in that stretch would also have to replaced.
He said there would also be some land acquisition required.
The stretch of road has been on the county’s legally required 5-year plan for more than 40 years.
Supervisor Rich Harlow asked what it would cost to seal coat the road.
Hull said sealcoating would cost about $20,000 per mile just for the sealcoat, but he said initial prep or construction on the road to prepare it for the seal coat would be about $100,000 per mile.
After the meeting, Hull said it probably wouldn’t be his preference to seal coat the road because the county would save money going with asphalt over the lifespan projections of that surface.
“I’d looking at things over 30 years because that’s typically what we estimate for the lifespan of concrete. That’s a good break point to look at the different options,” Hull said.
Supervisor Matt Pflug said the county should take a closer look at the seal coating option.
“I don’t think we should rule out seal coat when we have our discussion on our five year plan, we should seriously take a look at it or talk about it,” Pflug said.
Supervisor Ron Fedler said the problem with the road is that it’s difficult to get water off the road, but he said the county has to stay with its budget and that’s the reason why the road work keeps getting pushed back.
“The best thing we can do is get the ditches dug out and get the water off the road, keep the road crowned and get the hills, if we can find the money, cut down so we don’t have the blind spots.”
Board Chairman Gary Folluo said he would like the county staff to take another look at the road.
“I know we talked at one time about grading some of the hills and that creates some problems. We’re looking for a way to get some relief and seal coat may fit that bill. If everyone is set on concrete, your 5-year plan, you’re looking at another 20 to 25 years, because the county is not going to be able to afford to do that,” Folluo said.
Heather Fuger, the principal at Central Lee Elementary School, said she appreciated the county’s position, but wanted to know if a meeting could be set up at a more opportune time to allow more residents to come and voice their concerns. She said many parents in the district are concerned about the condition of the road.
“We have a lot of people who would like to understand and be a part of that conversation,” she said.
Folluo directed Harlow to help the residents set up a meeting to discuss the issue further. Pflug said it would be appropriate for the supervisors to move one of the regular supervisor meetings to Central Lee at a different time to allow people who work to come and voice their concerns.
No date or time for that meeting was officially set by the board.