Supervisors talk flood damage/dust with county engineer
Wednesday, July 02, 2014 10:33 AM
Winneshiek County flood damage to roads, bridges and box culverts is approaching $300,000.
“The Yellow River went crazy on us,” Winneshiek County Engineer Lee Bjerke told the Board of Supervisors Monday morning.
Several inches of rain fell on already saturated ground over the past week. The engineer told Decorah Newspapers Tuesday, two roads remained closed due to flooding -- 177th St. east of Middle Calmar Road where a culvert was destroyed, and 128th Street northeast of Castalia, where a small concrete bridge brick wall has failed. They both will be replaced with box culverts.
In addition, Bjerke said a sidewall failed in a box culvert on 107th Avenue in the southeast corner of the county, where the road is open to one lane of traffic, and an eight-foot culvert has been undermined just north of Fort Atkinson on county road A-14. Those structures also will need to be replaced with box culverts.
Other bridges had damage to abutments and some county roads were temporarily under water. Bjerke said so far, the county has spent $14,000 on replacement rock alone.
Representatives of the state agency Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency were here Tuesday to inspect the damage and to determine if it meets the threshold for a presidential declaration that would make emergency funding available.
“We think we easily do (meet the threshold),” Bjerke said.
Bjerke reported work could be starting soon on Manawa Trail Road in Pleasant Township, which has been closed since June of 2013 when two bridge piles on the Manawa Trail bridge were knocked out by debris carried by floodwaters.
Bjerke said Minnowa Construction of Harmony, Minn. has the contract for repairing the bridge, which includes replacing two pilings in the east pier. He said the firm recently parked a crane near the bridge, which means work should begin soon. Bjerke said the structure has to be secured before work can begin and he couldn’t predict when the complicated project would be completed.
In other road matters, the Board instructed Bjerke to develop specifications for a safety study of Canoe Valley Road and Middle Hesper Road from 377th Street to Meadowlark Road. Concerns about speed and dust on those roads were raised during recent discussions of a conditional-use permit for the Quandahl Farm/Wiltgen Construction Company’s sand quarry off Canoe Valley Road. Last Monday, the supervisors approved the permit that allows limestone rock to be crushed at the quarry for 15 days a year.
During Monday’s Board meeting, the supervisors asked Bjerke about conducting a speed survey of the area. Bjerke said such a study would only determine what the mean speed is on the roadway. Lowering the speed has been discussed as a way to reduce dust on the road.
Bjerke said a safety study would be more in depth and would include characteristics of the road, the type of traffic, the percentage of truck traffic, traffic volumes and peak travel times. When asked, Bjerke said he could conduct such a study, or the county could hire a consultant, which he guessed would cost $8,000-$10,000. Bjerke is expected to report back to the Board Monday.
“The reason we’re talking about this is the dust,” Logsdon commented.
Bjerke was asked whether a new speed limit could be imposed with a study. He responded Iowa Code dictates the speed reduction needs to be “based on something,” with a study behind it. In general, the speed limit on gravel roads is 55 miles per hour during the day and 50 miles per hour at night.
Bjerke said the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Department would have the burden of enforcing a reduced speed limit.
Supervisor Dennis Karlsbroten asked if the county buys a certain grade of crushed rock.
“Where do we buy the mud from on Middle Hesper Road?” he asked, referring to the rock on that road.
Bjerke responded the county’s policy is to adhere to Iowa Department of Transportation “Class A” specifications and that all the contractors the county does business with know what those specs are.
“If you think the stone coming out of every quarry is the same, it isn’t,” he said.
He also said the county has excluded some quarries for failing to provide the quality the county wants.
“Depending on what you want the road to do,” Bjerke said different qualities are desirable. For example, he said rock that might work well during the summer, may not perform as well after the first freeze/thaw cycle.
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