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County Road Construction Season Begins

By Staff | May 12, 2009

The road construction season is officially underway in Palo Alto County, the county’s Board of Supervisors learned last Tuesday. Construction on the county’s major road project, the reconstruction of County Road N60, or the Depew pavement, is underway as of May 1.

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz reported to the Supervisors that the actual cracking of the old pavement had begun on May 4. According to Fantz, the contractors are cracking and crushing the old pavement of one lane of the roadway and then piling it alongside on the other lane of the roadway. As the old paving is removed, the fly ash base material is being placed in the roadbed.

“This a little change in the method that the contractor used on the Graettinger project,” Fantz acknowledged, “but it should actually be easier to work with, because it’s actually eliminating the step of hauling the concrete away and crushing it then bringing it back to the job site.”

Fantz also brought the contract for the Federal Stimulus road project, the widening and resurfacing of County Road N20 north of Ruthven. Blacktop Service Company of Humboldt was the winning bidder for the project, which will entail widening the roadway and resurfacing with asphalt. The total cost of the project is $659,874.97 for the roughly two miles of work.

“As a point of information, that breaks down to $330,000 a mile for asphalt paving,” Fantz said. “Our price for the Depew pavement with concrete paving was $463,000 per mile. Crawford County just bid a concrete paving project through the stimulus program, using our plans and specs from the Graettinger project, and their bid price came in at $557,000 per mile for concrete, so we got a very favorable bid on our project before the federal stimulus money started flowing.”

In other items of business, Fantz also reported on a concern over some hauling of materials by a private contractor near Mallard. The contractor has been hauling dirt and clay down some gravel roads, and causing some major rutting and damage to the gravel road. Additionally, a grader had to scrape mud off County Road B63 a couple of miles east of Mallard where the contractors had pulled out of their loading site and onto the pavement to reach their hauling route.

“You actually had to have a grader go out and scrape the mud off the pavement?” Supervisor Keith Witz asked Fantz.

“Yes, and Mike Hartman said they’re starting to haul on another road and will probably tear it up too if it continues to rain,” Fantz answered.

“They could at least wait until dry weather to haul,” Wirtz observed. “I think you need to have a conversation with them.

Fantz proposed talking to the contractors per Wirtz’s suggestion. “I could tell them that the damage to the first gravel road was their free one, but that the next one, they’re going to get the bill for anything we have to repair on it.”

The board agreed with the suggestion and left the matter with the engineer.

Fantz also noted that the City of Emmetsburg is planning on having a surplus equipment auction on May 30, and that with the board’s approval, Secondary Roads would also place some old, unused equipment on the auction. The board was in agreement with the idea and authorized Fantz to proceed.

The board also discussed a request to add culvert pipes underneath County Road N28 south of U.S. Highway 18 to assist some landowners with drainage. Fantz reminded the board that past policy allowed for Secondary Roads to do such work, but only with the permission of any downstream landowners, and also with the caveat that the requestors pay for one-half the costs of the work. The board agreed to follow the existing policy for the request.