The largest paving project in Palo Alto county history is entering its final stages. When complete, a north/south bypass will run on the east side of Emmetsburg.
As anticipation builds for the road to be complete, county officials are asking the public to use caution when traveling in the area.
"As we move into the final phase of construction, there will be periods of greatly increased traffic with trucks carrying concrete from the plant to the paver. While this is exciting, it can also be very dangerous, and I urge everyone to avoid these routes as much as possible," said Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz.
The concrete plant will be set up at the Cylinder county pit and will provide the concrete for the entire project. The plant can fill a truck with concrete every four minutes. The Ready-Mix trucks loaded with concrete will travel from the paving plant East to N60, then North, then West on nearby gravel roads to the closest intersection to where the paving in occurring. From there, the truck will drive down the unpaved portion of 480th and dump in front of the paver. The empty trucks will go down the grade to the next mile, then go East to 490th Ave., then South to 360th St. then East back to the plant.
"Each truck has only 1 hours from the time he is loaded until it is dumped in the paver, so the trucks will waste no time. A paver can travel close to mile a day, which could mean up to 450 truckloads of concrete," commented Fantz.
The concrete will have both coarse (rock) and fine (sand) aggregates which will be mixed with cement to make concrete. The rock will be limestone from Gilmore City and the sand is from Emmetsburg.
The pavement will be eight inches deep and 24 feet wide. It will be reinforced with 5/8 inch steel bars at the centerline every 30 inches. Contraction joints perpendicular to the pavement are placed every 15 feet and are reinforced with 18 inch long steel dowels. This reinforcement is used to carry vehicle loads across the joints.
The county anticipates the concrete paving will begin today and continue for approximately one month. The earth shoulder construction is expected to take about another month. The pavement markings will then take several days to complete. The proposed paving schedule has work wrapping up near the end of August.
The pavement must be seven days old and reach a certain strength before traffic can pass. Once the pavement has been approved to carry loads, the shouldering can begin. Palo Alto County will place a pile of gravel at entrances along the project. When a section has achieved strength, the contractor will push the gravel down along the pavement, allowing access onto the slab.
As the project nears completion, the county engineer's office will have information available on what sections of road are open to traffic. However, if a section of road isn't yet open, the office will not know a specific time that it will be open.
Fantz reminds everyone that if a section of road is closed off with barricades or orange safety fence, it is not open to traffic.