Engineer said county has tried several times to get roadway north of fertilizer plant improved
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – County Engineer Ben Hull said an effort to get 180th Street north along the Iowa Fertilizer Company property up to standard has to move forward this year.
At Monday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, Hull told the board this is the third conversation he’s had with state Department of Transportation officials and IFC officials about getting the roadway improved.
The stretch of roadway was a gravel road when IFC first came to Lee County. The company improved the roadway at their cost during construction of the plant, but Hull said it is not sloped correctly nor built to withstand the traffic flow. The county has a weight limit of 10,000 lbs. on the roadway and Hull said it is not holding up well.
Hull said county crews dumped a maintenance truck on the road last winter.
“It’s not sloped correctly so there’s no chance for vehicles that leave the roadway to stay upright. We experienced that ourselves last year with one of our own trucks,” Hull said.
Supervisor Garry Seyb said personnel changes have muddied the conversations of the past several years. Hull agreed saying most of the people he is talking with now are new to the conversation about the roads.
Another meeting to try and iron out the improvements was held Monday afternoon.
“This has to be the last time we try to hold conversations about that roadway. This is the third time since I’ve been the engineer that we’ve tried to work this out.”
He said the county has the authority under the original road haul agreement on the stretch of roadway to mandate it be put back to its original condition, which is gravel without any shoulders.
“Nobody wants that,” he said. “But we have to get the stretch up to standard.”
Hull said the state DOT at one point was interested in possibly putting an acceleration lane on the northbound lane on a right-hand turn out of the facility west bound. He said now DOT officials have changed and they too are new to the conversation and he feels like the county keeps going back to square one.
Hull said he’s hoping the DOT revisits the acceleration lane as it would allow for easier transition onto Hwy. 61 northbound out of the facility.
The Biden Administration’s Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act has money available on a competitive basis for projects to improve transportation models across the country. Hull said this project could be eligible for some of those funds if a consensus can be reached quickly on improving the road.
Hull also said the road is critical to access to the area, when flooding occurs.
In other action, supervisors:
• appointed Bob Conlee to the county Civil Service Commission.
• reappointed Todd Shields and Lonnie Glascock to the Veteran’s Affairs Commission.
• approved the purchase of a tandem axle belly dump semi-trailer after a collision last month damaged the county’s current gravel hauler. The city received $33,000 in insurance proceeds after the collision and approved the purchase at $48,554.