County officials discuss Stone Bridge, Road Construction Program

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     While the public hearing for the Jones County Secondary Road Construction Program has yet to be formally set, it did draw a lot of discussion among the board of supervisors during their Dec. 29 board meeting.

     County Engineer Derek Snead proposed setting the public hearing for the road/bridge program for Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m., following the board’s evening meeting. The hearing will be broadcast via Zoom to encourage the public to participate remotely versus in-person due to social distancing. It will be held in the Community Room within the courthouse.

     Snead presented his draft notice of the five-year program to the board.

     “We plan to add another large-scale concrete overlay project to the program,” warned Snead. “We believe funds will be available to do another overlay project at the end of the program.”

     He said there are four roadways within the county that are in need of some attention:

     • County Road X-28

     • County Road X-31

     • County Road E-17

     • County Road E-29

     “Unfortunately, we can’t pick them all,” Snead said. “There are pluses and minuses to all of them. It’ll be a difficult decision.”

     Assistant Engineer Todd Postel said that the pavement on all four roads range between 40 and 50 years of age.

     “It’s not getting any better,” he said.

     Snead sand Postel told the supervisors that if they have any suggestions for structures (roads or bridges), to bring those ideas to the public hearing, or anything they’ve heard from the public.

     Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach inquired about Ely’s Stone Bridge outside of Monticello.

     “It needs to be discussed one direction or another,” Zirkelbach said.

     Incoming Supervisor Jeff Swisher commented that while campaigning this year, Stone Bridge was a hot topic both he and incoming Supervisor John Schlarmann heard a lot about from voters.

     Snead asked the board if there have been any new developments from the Jones County Historic Preservation Commission, the agency that manages the bridge for the board of supervisors. While no updates were given, Snead said the goal with the Construction Program is to stay within the county’s “funding boundaries.”

     “We don’t go into this putting a wish list together,” added Snead. “When we present (the program) to the public, we give out funding constraints.”

     Over the course of the last several years, Secondary Roads has been aggressive when it comes to replacing and repairing bridges throughout the county.

     “We don’t have enough money to add a bunch of bridges in,” Snead said. “If we add anything, something (another project) has to go away.”

     Swisher asked if there were other bridges in the county in similar situations as Stone Bridge in terms of historic recognition.

     Snead explained that over the years, the Engineer’s Office designed several different options for the future of Stone Bridge. He said aside from its age, over 100 years old, it’s also a drain on maintenance costs.

     “It’s not up to Iowa Code,” he added. “It’s at a dangerous location downhill and it’s a narrow structure.”

     He said there doesn’t seem to be a right answer when it comes to Stone Bridge due to the cost and historic significance.


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