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Economic Stimulus Proposal Could Help County’s Plans

By Staff | Jan 29, 2009

If the economic stimulus plan being proposed by President Barack Obama comes to pass, Palo Alto County could see some local affect through funding for a road project. That information was presented to the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during its Jan. 27 meeting.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz reported that as a result of a regional meeting of county engineers and state officials, a plan to resurface and widen County Road N20 north out of Ruthven to Lost Island Lake will be in line to receive $590,000 of federal economic stimulus money, if and when Congress approves the President’s plan.

“This is certainly good news for the county,” Fantz noted. “But, we have to remember that no funds have been allocated for this stimulus program yet. We were very fortunate to get the nod for this project, because this had originally been developed for the RISE Grant for Corrugated Solutions, but when that did not work out, we put the plans on the shelf.”

The project would consist of a three-inch asphalt overlay, as well as widening the roadway three feet on each side, for a mile and a half north out of Ruthven and a mile east. The road, which was formerly state highway 341, was turned over to the county by the state several years ago.

In a related item, in order to be able to proceed with the project at the point in time when the economic stimulus monies might become available, the board introduced and adopted a resolution to modify the county’s Construction Plan to include the project. On a roll call vote, the resolution was approved.

“The Department of Transportation also held a bid opening last week in Ames, and our Depew paving project was one of the projects where bids were opened,” Fantz reported. “The apparent low bidder for the project is Cedar Valley Corporation, the same contractor that did the B14 project in 2007 at Graettinger. Their bid for the nine and a half miles of reconstruction and concrete paving was $4,459.487.32.”

According to Fantz, the bid came in $687,000 below the original estimate for the project, which had bids ranging from Cedar Valley’s $4.4 million bid to a high bid of $5.2 million.

“I think this bid more than validates the board’s bonding plan and idea of doing larger construction projects to get better bid prices and costs,” Fantz added.

Fantz also reported that a position vacancy at the Cylinder maintenance shed attracted 39 applications. “We’ll interview our three part-time employees for this position, in addition to some of the applicants,” Fantz noted.

In other business, the board met with Hugh Lively, Executive Director of RIDES, the Regional Transit Authority in Spencer. Lively presented a brief update on the services offered in Palo Alto County through RIDES, and noted that the organization had resumed providing transportation service to Horizons Unlimited starting in November of 2008.

“How is that working out?” asked Board Chair Ed Noonan.

“Actually, it’s working very well,” Lively reported. “With our regular taxi services here in Emmetsburg, we’re able to start a little earlier by picking up the Horizons’ passengers and then go on to service the regular taxi service route.”

Lively then presented the board with RIDES’ funding request for the upcoming fiscal year, a request for $4,500 in capital funds and $2,000 in operating funds, for a total of $6,500. That amount is a $1,000 increase over last year’s request. The board took the request under advisement.