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Road and Bridge discusses improvements

By Jim Allen
The Road and Bridge Committee met on Wednesday, April 14, at 9:00. Chairman Don Munson and committee members Dick Hein and Gary Luth were in attendance. Also present were County Engineer Jim Crane and members of the public. 

The work on Cronus Chemicals is ongoing. However, the recent scarcity of materials and the increased cost of materials are causing delays. Also, the restrictions on travel from other countries to the United States is affecting the ability of Cronus officials to make personal contact with stateside corporations.

As of 4-08-2021, bids were out for the road work improvement in the footprint of the Industrial Wind Complex in Newman and Murdock Townships. There has been interest by several companies for this project. Bids will be opened at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday April 28.  A special County Board meeting will be held on May 3 at 11:00 a.m. to award to the lowest responsible bidder.

On May 20, 2020, Douglas County entered into an agreement for professional services with Chastain and Associates for engineering work on the roadways in the Harvest Ridge Wind Farm At that time the estimated cost for these services was $960,000.00. However, there has been a significant increase in the scope of the project and the needed construction repairs. The estimated fees are now $1,850,000. This is an estimate and the final cost will be based on actual time and materials. This cost will be reimbursed by EDPR.

Among the reasons for the increased cost of the estimate is that there was no record of the original roadway profiles. Due to time restrictions, Chastain relied on Lidar data provided by EDPR. The data provided by EDPR showed the pavement thickness was off by an average of four inches. Four inches of rock over 28.5 miles of road is significant. Therefore Chastain had to redesign the profiles and redo much of the work that was done. Also Chastain’s survey data showed that many culverts were improperly installed. After heavy rains last spring, several of the culverts installed by EDPR were blown out of the ditches soon after they were installed. The report showing what culverts needed to be replaced was not received by Chastain until well after the work started. 

All roadways will be returned to their original width. Those that were widened during the construction phase need to be narrowed so the cost of maintenance will not be increased. Adding width to a county or township roadway will significantly increase the money needed for oil and chip as well as other costs. Also, the ditches will need to be reconfigured for drainage. Some roads that had 12 inches of rock put on them are now showing the original oil and chip surface.

The excess rock is now in the ditches. Where before the soil from cleaning out the ditches could be placed back in the adjoining land, now that soil has contaminated rock. The rock that is taken from the existing roadway will not be used in the reconstruction. Due to mistakes in the original roadwork by EDPR, the cost of reclaiming the roads in the footprint could be close to $10,000,000.00. 

The reconstruction of the roads will be completed in sections, but the final coat of oil and chip will be performed at one time. This will give the roads a seamless look. There are approximately 28.5 miles of roadwork. Since the project is in more than one township and county roads are involved, the county is coordinating the work with EDPR and Chastain and Associates. All the time the County Highway Department spends on the reconstruction will be reimbursed by EDPR.

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