Supervisors to consider road reconstruction


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The Johnson County Board of Supervisors will weigh the decision on a major road construction project at today’s meeting.

At a Jan. 23 meeting, Assistant County Engineer Ed Bartels presented Secondary Roads Department’s blueprints for extensive expansion and repaving of Mehaffey Bridge Road, scheduled to begin this summer. The project aims to use recycled material in an effort to cut costs and reduce the environmental impact.

You grind down into the top 6 inches of pavement that exists, and then you dig out an additional 5 feet on each side for widening purposes,” Bartels said. “You then take that ground material, as well as virgin material, and repave, basically leaving you with a new road.”

The estimated price for the project comes out to roughly $1.5 million to $5 million. Bartels noted that this was higher than intended but had been factored into the Secondary Roads’ approved five-year plan and budget; therefore, it would not pose a problem.

In addition, Bartels said his department was able to collaborate with North Liberty on the plans, a move that will save Johnson County a portion of the cost. The joint effort will increase the road’s overall price tag, which Bartels points out could help to reduce expenditures by opening the project to lower bids.

By working with North Liberty, we’ve actually increased the cost considerably; the idea being that you get a more expensive project you might attract more bidders,” he said. “Bigger work for us often brings in more people, which is helpful.”

City Councilor Chris Hoffman agreed.

“It’s a matter of timing really,” Hoffman said. “We want to do the project at the same time as Johnson County, and it just makes sense economically to use the same contractors and complete the whole road together.”

Bartels intends for the project to be done with as little inconvenience to motorists as possible and to keep the public updated on progress through social media.

“The fastest way to check what’s going on will be through Secondary Roads’ Twitter feed,” he said. “We’ll also have electronic signs up and you can look at our website for updates.”

After reviewing the plans, Supervisor Janelle Rettig expressed apprehensions there being continuous rumble-strips throughout the center lane with an unknown number of breaks, an issue that could pose a problem for cyclists attempting to cross the road safely.

“I don’t want hypotheticals; I actually want to know how many breaks there are,” Retting said. “When we initially started, you said there would be no breaks, so I really want clarification.”

The supervisors agreed that while there was consensus for interest in the project, they would like Bartels to come to the next meeting with full details, especially information regarding breaks for bicyclists.

Bartels will make a second presentation, and the supervisors will vote on approval for construction at today’s meeting.

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