Howard County bridge, road projects for 2018


Howard County - The Howard County Engineer’s Office and secondary road crew is going to be busy this summer with several bridge and pavement projects taking place in Howard County.
Day Labor Projects
Projects labeled as Day Labor are ones done by county employees and cost less than an amount set by DOT to complete. County Engineer Nick Rissman explained, “That number changes every year, but for this year, it is $87,000. Anything over that, we have to go out for bids. For any project, the bigger it is, the more expensive it is.”
The first project for the year is Bridge OD-9A in Oak Dale Township. The 48 ft. long x 20 ft. wide existing bridge on 40th St. will be replaced with one that is 62 ft. x 26 ft. 
Two other bridges to be tentatively replaced this year are HC-5 (Howard Center) and HC-6.
Contracted Projects
Bridge P-34 in Paris Township that is 73 ft. x 15 ft. will be replaced with one that is 174 ft. x 24 ft. It is located one mile north of Chickasaw County line and one mile east of Highway 63 on 200th St. It is estimated to cost $725,000.
There is a possibility AF-39 (by Wapsi Produce) will be worked on this summer. The old bridge collapsed and was removed in 2000. The new Afton Township bridge will be 201 ft. x 24 ft.  It is estimated to cost just under $1 million. 
The big paving project this year is A-46 from Highway 63 east to the Winneshiek County Line. Croell Inc. is the primary contractor, with a bid of $3,455,168.96. 
A relatively new feature on the road will be a safety edge on the pavement. “The traveling public won’t notice anything different to the naked eye,” Rissman explained. The safety edge has a sloped surface going from the road to the shoulder. This will make it easier for vehicles to get back on the pavement with the sloped edge rather than the straight edge of other roads. 
It costs a little more up front but will save money on edge rut maintenance in the future, as well as being a safety measure for drivers.
The Winneshiek County bridge project is set to begin in early April.  The Howard County paving project is set to begin in early May. However, there will be surveying and milling work on the pavement that may cause the road to be closed prior to early May.  It is estimated that both projects could be completed around mid-July.
Schley building
Currently the county has a single-stall building at Schley for equipment. It purchased the former Bubba’s Bar & Grill property and will construct a 76 ft. x 50 ft. shop. A&J construction is doing the work.
How are projects paid? 
Choosing projects and getting them paid can be a balancing act for Howard County Engineer’s Office.
Rissman has several different funds from which to pay for projects.
• The Farm to Market Fund is  most typically used for paving projects and receives about $780,000 per year. That may sound like a lot, but it costs about $300,000 per mile to pave, which equals to about two miles a year.
• The local budget is used mainly for maintenance of the 130 miles of paved and 625 miles of gravel secondary roads.  Items like rocking / blading the gravel roads, winter snow removal, fuel, equipment purchases and many other items are paid for through the local budget.  
Depending on each year’s budget, this is sometimes used to pay for small construction projects. This could range anywhere from zero to $500,000. 
• The Bridge Account receives $275,000 per year. This money can only be spent on structures that are longer than 20 feet.  The average cost to replace one of these bridges is $250,000-$300,000. That figures to about one bridge per year.
And that is where the really tricky part comes into play. Howard County has over 2,000 structures, ranging from 18-inch CMPs (Corrugated Metal Pipe) to the 297-foot bridge at Lidtke Mill. Of those 2,000 structures, 209 are longer than 20 feet. Bridges have an estimated lifespan of 75 years. Penciling that out, to keep updated, 2.8 bridges need to be replaced every year. That does not compute!
• Luckily Howard County has been able to utilize TIFs (Tax Increment Financing), which is a method to subsidize for redevelopment, infrastructure and other community-improvement projects. Since 2010 the supervisors have TIFed the wind farms, including 66 in the Crane Creek Wind Farm and 46 in the Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm.
The amount of TIF money authorized for secondary roads was $10,008,856.13. There is currently about $2,125,000 available, although there are 33 new wind turbines going up in the Saratoga area, which may generate more funds for infrastructure.
So far, funds used from TIF have included purchasing one motor grader at 100 percent and two at 50 percent; eight miles of grading projects; 11.5 miles of paving projects; 21 bridge replacements over 20 feet in length; a portion of four bridge rehabilitation greater than 20 feet; and one bridge replacement less than 20 feet.
Future TIF projects include Bridge AF-39; Vernon Road paving; portion of HC-5; and possibly bridges S-11 and S-15.
Every project completed is one step closer to getting other projects done.
Bigalk Bridge
One of the two bridges near the Bigalks trout stream was closed last fall due to not meeting national bridge inspection standards. Both bridges are on the list to be replaced, just not in 2018.  Rissman said it typically takes two years to design a bridge, which will put the replacement into 2019 or later.   

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

Sign Up For Breaking News

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Subscribe to Breaking News feed