One of the rites of spring occurs when the Washington County engineer meets in a work session to go over the five-year construction program with the board of supervisors. That work session was held Monday morning following the board’s weekly meeting.
The purpose of the work session, county engineer Jacob Thorius said, was to “talk about what projects are coming up, what I’m suggesting, and also when you gentlemen have a say if you want to do a different project.”
Thorius also told the supervisors that the county cannot work on a road project unless it is in the five-year plan. The program he presented is for construction years 2014-18.
There are four construction funding sources, which include local property tax funds of $300,000 a year; farm-to-market roads (state gas tax) of $910,000 a year; federal bridge funds of $350,000 a year; and the Surface Transportation Program (federal gas tax) of $300,000 a year.
The estimated funding of all the projects in the program totals $20.6 million. However, the county has only $9.3 million available. Therefore, Thorius said he analyzes the needs of the entire secondary roads system when coming up with the program.
Thorius said bridges are the program’s main issue. His department looks at how people move around in the county and which bridges impact the traveling public.
This construction season’s bridge projects are a Wayland Road bridge, which was damaged in 1986, and a bridge on Prairie Flower Road. Construction on the Wayland Road bridge will begin April 7. The Prairie Flower Road bridge will be replaced with a box culvert.
There are 13 other county bridges in the program.
Road construction projects for this summer are two phases of Vine Avenue overlay. Another Vine Avenue overlay is scheduled for 2018. Work on the Riverside Road is planned in three phases beginning in 2016. Portions of G36 and Coppock Road would be smoothed out in 2015. Improvements to McKain’s railroad crossing are scheduled for 2016, and the intersection at Hickory Avenue and 130th Street are planned for 2018.
“This is a living plan, changing every year as the county road system is reanalyzed and funding options and availability is updated,” Thorius said.
After the nearly two-hour session, Supervisor Bob Yoder said the biggest complaint in his district is the lack of gravel. He would also like to see work done on Maple Avenue.
Thorius said the county is putting rock on the roads. He said he has two maintenance districts in Yoder’s district, which are also the smallest districts in the county.
“They get the same amount of rock as the other districts,” Thorius said.
The construction program will be on the supervisors’ agenda for Tuesday, April 8, for approval. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. and is held in the county courthouse.