By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
The condition of Forest Chapel Road in Jones County was of much discussion at the recent Jones County Board of Supervisors meeting on Aug. 20. Chuck Marks, a resident on Forest Chapel Road presented a petition to the Board, containing the signatures of about 70 out of 100 or so property owners affected by the condition of the road, according to Marks.
“Improvements are needed (to the road) to keep quality access,” commented Marks.
He said in the last 10 to 12 years, there have been a lot of new residents moving to that area, increasing the traffic on Forest Chapel Road.
“We’d like to know what’s available and what’s not available to fix things and a timeframe,” Marks asked of the Supervisors and County Engineer Derek Snead. “We’d like some answers in writing.”
Snead said there is a road stabilization project on the schedule for about .3 of a mile for grading and resurfacing.
“That’s the only project designated for the roadway,” Snead reiterated. He said if the county had a larger road construction budget, things might be a little different. “Due to the rising costs of construction and no increase in funds, I’m declined to use funds in smaller projects. This project would have to be locally funded.”
Marks said there are issues the county needs to deal with on Forest Chapel Road to make it safer. Snead said if the county were to fix some of those issues, it would take “acres and acres of right-of-way. That’s a stopping block,” Snead said. “We’d have to expand the ROW and change the geometry of the road.”
As far as a cost estimate, Snead offered about $1 million for resurfacing and another $1 million to flatten the slopes of the road. It’d take about a half million to purchase ROW, with an estimated total of about $2.5 to $3 million.
“We need to shift our focus from new paving projects (like Forest Chapel Road) to maintaining what we have,” commented Supervisor Keith Dirks.
Marks said the road is eroding in places and “is really bad in the winter.” He said he talked to the transportation department with Anamosa Schools said they commented that it is one of the worst roads to drive buses on.
“It’s a busy secondary road,” Marks said. “Because of that, it should be moved up the priority list if nothing else to be maintained.”
Dirks said no other road in the county gets talked about more than Forest Chapel.
“The stabilization project worked very well,” Snead said of what’s been already done.
To that, Marks said the stabilization has been “marginal for the traffic to notice the difference.”
Snead said what was done has helped 100 percent with dust control and keeping the rock on top of the roadway. He said next on the list for Forest Chapel is some ditching. “There’s no plans for paving and new construction,” he said. “It could change with a huge influx of funding, but ditching and surface stabilization is the plan now.”
Marks said he knows this issue with Forest Chapel has been brought up in the past and it is still an on-going issue. He said the county should look to start budgeting for the road now. “It’s been on-going for more than a decade,” he said. “We’re just looking for progress and improvements.”
In other county business:
• County Auditor Janine Sulzner mentioned the Conservation Board has hired a new director, replacing Larry Gullett, to start Sept. 9. It has not been decided whether the new director will live in the house at Central Park.
• Michele Lubben, Land Use administrator, met with the Board about a complaint in Section 8 of Fairview Township located at 23124 Fish House Rd. in Anamosa.
She said some neighbors have complained about the condition of the property. Lubben said she has seen a mobile home, excessive weeds and some cars and vehicles sitting on the property that may not be registered. Lubben said the complaints of car batteries and propane tanks may be an issue for the DNR.
The Board suggested Lubben proceed with a formal nuisance, sending out a courtesy letter and giving the landowner 30 days to clean up the property. • Amy Picray, county treasurer, informed the Board that her office has been very busy issuing Driver’s Licenses lately.
“July was our busiest month ever,” she said.
She said a couple of weeks ago on a Thursday they performed nine driving tests. The Treasurer’s Office now has two certified personnel to administer driving tests, which helps speed up the process.
She said this time of the year they are seeing a lot of kids coming in for school licenses.