BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Drawings were unrolled and laid out on tables for property owners along Fort Madison’s Business 61 corridor from 10th to 18th streets Wednesday at City Hall.
With construction equipment still moving earth in the 6th to 10th street portion of the highway people got another glimpse of what the next phase of the highway improvement project will look like Wednesday afternoon.
City Public Works Director Mark Bousselot was on hand along with engineers from HR Green out of Cedar Rapids, the city’s engineer on the project. Bousselot was addressing questions from property owners and trying to secure temporary, and in some cases, permanent easements for the work.
Bousselot said he hoped to the project would go out for bid in January, but he has to get all the easements by the end of October 19 or the bidding will be pushed back at least a month.
“I got a lot of people to sign easements,” he said. “I got three signed today out of 40.”
The next project is planned to take a full construction year to get completed.
“The goal was to get it finished. It’s less of a hardship on the community if we can get it done and there’s a push to do it,” Bousselot said.
The project, like the 2nd to 6th street project is one project but is currently planned to be done in phases, which would include 10th to 12th streets and 15th to 18th streets being done simultaneously, while the 12th to 15 street section is left to allow access points to the highway.
Once the first two phases are completed, then construction crews would go back and finish the 12th to 15th section, hopefully all within one year. Bousselot said that would also be influenced by the length and harshness of the winter season.
“We need to optimistic and realistic as far as what can be accomplished in what timeline,” Bousselot said.
He said too tight of a timeline could result in what are called liquidated damages to the contractor for not completing in time. He said contractors are smart enough to build those costs into the bid, so the city would end up paying for any damages they might assess if work isn’t done according to the bid.
Eric Freitag, who owns three Turbo Washes in Fort Madison, one at the corner of 15th and Avenue H, said he was happy with the planning of the project. Crews plan to lay down a gravel path from the alley behind the car wash around to the front to allow access to the facility.
Freitag said he was concerned with closing 15th Street to semi traffic, specifically to the landfill on top of Rodeo hill.
“I think the biggest problem they’ll have is that 15th Street is a main artery for semi traffic to the landfill. 15th Street already has a truck turn lane, as opposed to 18th that doesn’t. So you’re going to funnel semis down 18th Street, that doesn’t have that turn lane established, during construction,” Freitag said.
He also said it’s important that right of ways be free of shrubbery and greens so that people can see turning onto the highway and no visibility is impaired.
The plans also include a connection point turning west off 15th Street onto Avenue H for a PORT Trail connection from Avenue B down to the Highway. Currently the trail runs north from Avenue B to Rodeo Park.
The cost of the project wasn’t available as engineers are still working on how the project will finally look and any potential roadblocks on availability of materials and contractors.
Property owners who have easements along the corridor are encouraged to call City Hall regarding the project at 372-7700.