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Road Project Earns Recognition From National Paving Group

By Staff | Oct 23, 2008

HIGH PRAISE – Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz, standing, and Assistant to the Engineer John Wright, seated, were notified recently that Palo Alto County was selected as the recipient of the National Concrete Paving Project of the Year Award from the National Concrete Paving Association. The award comes on the heels of the county winning a similar award at the state level at the end of 2007. The national honors will be awarded to the county in December in San Antonio, Texas. –Dan Voigt photo

For the Palo Alto County Secondary Road Department and the Engineer’s Office, words of praise don’t come as often as the words of complaint. But after an ambitious project to reconstruct eight miles of aging pavement a year ago, Palo Alto County has received some high words of praise – not just locally, but at the state and federal levels.

“I’m pleased to announce that our B14 reconstruction project in 2007 was named the National Concrete Paving Project of the Year by the National Concrete Paving Association,” noted Joel Fantz, Palo Alto County Engineer. “We were named the project of the year in Iowa in December of last year, and at that time, our project was entered into the national competition. We were notified that our project won at the end of September.”

According to Fantz, the county will be honored at the yearly convention of the National Concrete Paving Association in San Antonio, Texas during December of this year.

The honor is a feather in the cap of the county – in more ways than one.

“This is a significant validation of our organizations,” Fantz told the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during the announcement of the award. “It validates that our plans, developed in the Engineer’s office, were of a good design and well-thought out by our staff. It also is a tribute to our Secondary Road workers who performed the grading work on the project, preparing the right-of-way for the project, and it’s also a tribute to the work performed by our contractor, Cedar Valley Construction.”

As an additional caveat, Fantz also noted that the project was also cited by the Concrete Paving Association as having the lowest square yard cost of construction of all road projects in the United States completed in 2007. “That’s really neat, because that just hardly ever happens,” Fantz admitted to the Board.

Officials of the Iowa Department of Transportation submitted the B14 project for consideration for the honors at both the state and national levels. The Iowa DOT had approval over the original project plans and design work and felt the project was worthy of the consideration. After being nominated, the local project was evaluated on several areas at both the state and national levels, including the overall quality of the work, the complexity of the design and project and the overall design work that went into the project as a whole.

“I have to give credit where credit is due,” Fantz said. “John Wright had more to do with the quality design of this project than anyone, but our whole organization really put in the efforts to make this project successful.”

The project revolved around two stretches of county road B14; a one-mile stretch on the west edge of Graettinger and a seven-mile long stretch running east from the Des Moines River. As part of the project, a bridge spanning Jack Creek east of Graettinger was replaced at the same time.

Originally, the county had planned to do the reconstruction project in a two-year program – the first part of the project being the replacement of the 40-plus year old bridge and the second phase being the complete reconstruction of the highway, which dated back to the late 1950’s and early 1060’s.

The need for the project was obvious to those who lived on the road, as well as those who utilized the road. With a major egg production facility at the eastern end of the roadway, the narrow roadway, coupled with larger farm implements and increased truck traffic, had reached the end of its serviceable life.

The reconstruction began with grading and extension of road shoulders for the widening of the new roadway. The old concrete road was taken up and crushed. The roadbed was widened to 24 feet, and the new base of rock and fly ash, eight inches thick, was put in place and allowed to settle before the crushed concrete from the old roadway was placed over top. With the base in place, the paving began with eight inches of Portland Concrete Cement, utilizing dowelled joints for added strength.

Actual paving work was completed in less than three weeks time.

With one award-winning project under its belt, the Secondary Road Department and Engineer’s Office have embarked on a similar reconstruction project for the Depew pavement, or County Road N60, running from B14 south to the intersection with U.S. Highway 18, north of Cylinder.

Grading and right-of-way work are in the final stages of completion and the final design and plans were submitted to the Iowa DOT this week for that project. Bids are scheduled to be let this winter, with the reconstruction work to start next Spring.

The design and engineering work for a reconstruction project on the County Road B53 corridor, running east from Ayrshire to Iowa Highway Four, south of Emmetsburg is now starting, with construction on that project planned for 2010.

Both the Depew and Ayrshire road projects are being funded through the bonding effort that the county began at the end of 2007. Through that innovative bonding program, Palo Alto County’s Secondary Road Department and the Palo Alto County Engineer’s Office are embarking on a campaign to upgrade and rebuild roadways in the county to handle the future growth and infrastructure needs for industry and commerce, as well as the traveling public.