Supervisors OK Mehaffey project


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The Johnson County Board of Supervisors gave the green light on Thursday to a major project proposed last week by the Secondary Roads Department.

The project will not only widen but also repave Mehaffey Bridge Road at an estimated cost of $1.5 million to $5 million. Secondary Roads will use a process called “cold-and-place recycling,” a cost-saving method that involves combining reused material from the old road with new asphalt.

During last week’s meeting, Assistant County Engineer Ed Bartels presented the proposal to the supervisors during an informal meeting. He indicated Secondary Roads would collaborate with North Liberty on the construction of the road in a move to split the work as well as the cost.

North Liberty Street Superintendent Don Colony, who was not present at the meeting, expressed his desire to partner with Johnson County on tackling the project.

“We tag-teamed under their bid because it’s such a large project that we can probably get better prices if we expand the project,” Colony said. “And we won’t have to each pay mobilization twice.”

Right now, North Liberty would pay an estimated $1.01 million of the total. Despite the potential for a costly project, Secondary Roads has factored this into its five-year budget and will be able to handle the cost, officials say.

Bartels pointed out that by working together on a larger portion of road, the city and the county hope to save money by attracting a wider range of bidders.

One of the main considerations of this project has been convenience to motorists.

There will be one lane open during the road work. Because of the ability to work day and night unrestricted, Secondary Roads officials hopes to complete the project as quickly and with as little interference as possible.

In an effort to keep the public in the loop, Secondary Roads officials will post updates via a Twitter feed and website, as well as electric signs along the road. In addition, Secondary Roads employees will be use hot-mix asphalt, a process that allows motorists to drive on the new road soon after it has been paved.

“The problem with concrete is usually you have to shut down the road for it to be effective, because it has to cure. [With] asphalt, you can drive on it pretty much the same day they put it down,” Bartels said.

Concerns over the lack of access for bikers was brought up during last week’s meeting; however, the widening will allow for safer biking and an adequate number of breaks in the center lane will make road crossing easy.

Supervisor Chairwoman Janelle Rettig said she was satisfied with biker accommodation.

“The shoulders are set to be 4 feet in width, which is great,” Rettig said. “And in addition, we have plans to put a separate trail alongside the highway in three years.”

Johnson County Engineer Greg Parker outlined a timeline for the project.

“We are looking at a green-light on contracting in April and to hopefully start construction in June or July,” he said. “We’re also going to hold a public meeting the first week of May, hopefully at the phone company in North Liberty.”

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