County wants city to move on trail drainage issue

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – A drainage issue that has surfaced around the Fort Madison PORT trail has county officials wanting action.

At a workshop following Monday’s regular Board of Supervisors meeting, County Engineer Ben Hull told the board he has growing concerns over drainage near part of the trail on county property near the Canine Coral Dog Park south of Rodeo Park.

The point of contention is storm water drainage from the trail across a small easement that then runs across and down 302nd Avenue.

“The trail occupies the place where we used to have our ditch. In a number of places, the ditch has been eliminated causing the water to run down and across the road. Generally, it’s not functioning well,” Hull told the board.

Hull provided photos to the board that showed water running across the road and said not only are there hydroplaning and erosion concerns, in the winter there could be conditions of icing.

He said the county did review the plans and expressed concerns about drainage, but those concerns were not addressed appropriately.

“The comments were acknowledged with a response that, at that time in July of 2020, there was no time to revise plans before they were bid, or an addendum added,” Hull said.

“I understand there was a later addendum. I don’t know that I saw that. In any case, the plans we saw were preliminary in nature and it was never really clear to me what the overall drainage plan was and it’s clearly not working.”

However, the 28E agreement with the city allows for the county to actually move the trail if the project were to cause issues on county property. The city has only annexed the property that holds the trail and is responsible for maintaining the trail, but not the drainage areas or roadways.

Hull asked HR Green, the city’s engineering firm on the project, for the city to investigate the issue. He said the responses were incomplete and designed to shield liability. Hull then took the issue to supervisors Ron Fedler and Garry Seyb who met with city officials to discuss the concerns.

Hull said it wasn’t the greatest area in the Lee County road systems to begin with, but it was functioning and now it’s not.

The city agreed to amend the 28E currently in place where they would fix the drainage issue and continue to perform winter maintenance, while indemnifying the county against damages.

He said the county didn’t get the revised 28E to the city until December, but they received a counter proposal from the city.

“I have iterated a few times, that we weren’t asking for thoughts and opinions. We considered this to be an olive branch. Under this agreement, we have a number of remedies. We can have them relocate the trail based on our maintenance needs and I consider that to be the nuclear option at this point,” Hull said.

“That’s what we don’t want to have happen. But, at this point, I feel like I’ve been ignored and we’re not getting responses.” Hull said.

Fort Madison Public Works Director Mark Bousselot said a meeting was set in November to address the issues, but said he sent out emails last week to try and get pertinent people to sit down again and work out the issue.

“We had a meeting set for November, but Ben couldn’t make it and then we got into Thanksgiving and the holidays, and it didn’t get revisited until now,” Bousselot said.

He said the city did maintain the section of 302nd near that part of the trail over the winter because of the county’s concerns with water freezing on the roadway.

“We said we’d do that until we could get this sorted out and we did.”

Seyb agreed saying he’d met with Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld a couple times and the city isn’t against resolving the issue, but the county and the city need to sit down again.

“I don’t believe the city has at any point said it’s not their responsibility. The 28E from us, was basically our opportunity to give them a time frame to do one of two things,” Seyb said.

He said those were for the city to go back to the engineers to do work to meet the county’s needs, or for the city to work with Hull to find a path going forward.

However, Hull said the city should eventually annex all the way to the middle of 302nd Avenue to assume responsibility for the drainage and the roadway. He said the city has done a good job honoring commitments to keep the roadway clear of ice.

Board Chairman Matt Pflug asked Hull to approach the city about coming into a Supervisors meeting and update the county on where the city is at with respect to resolving the issue.

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