SEIRPC approves federal-aid swap program for county roads, bridges

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss views Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission?s decision to participate in federal-aid swap as a ?no brainer.?

The decision to swap federal and bridge money and replace it with state dollars is a positive decision for the county that will enable money to be spent more efficiently, Hotchkiss said.

The decision was made by SEIRPC last week despite some opposition, Supervisor Greg Moeller said. Swap funds are state dollars distributed to counties by the Iowa Department of Transportation that creates more buying power locally in the region.

Hotchkiss said Swap will require fewer ?hoops? to jump through to spend federal dollars.

?The big thing is we are getting dollar for dollar swap with the state,? Hotchkiss said. The Henry County Supervisors will remain the final say in what the county spends their money on.

One of the reasons Hotchkiss wanted to see Swap pass with SEIRPC is because of the importance of five-year planning in the Engineering Department. Swap will give more flexibility on projects that were planned years in advance.

For example, the county Engineering Department is making improvements to the J20 bridge, but before that they need to complete the J20 overlay because of a quarry on the other side, Hotchkiss explained.

If for whatever reason the bridge project gets delayed six months, therefore delaying the overlay project, Hotchkiss doesn?t ?have to mess with dealing with the programming at the federal level.?

?It takes out one more level of inspection, one level of oversight,? he said.

The House File 203 was signed into law March 2017.

In other news, the Henry County Engineering department got a lot of routine projects done last week. The department has moved on from improvements to paved roads to focusing on working on gravel roads.

Territory operators were busy hauling resurfacing rock to Tippecanoe Township, mowing shoulders and working locations for upcoming projects.

On 170th St. west of Hwy 218, DENCO began working on performing partial bridge deck patching. Hotchkiss said the work is supposed to take two days, but the heat might extend it to three days. There will be one-lane traffic over the bridge during the day.

The shoulder pull project on Agency Rd. was resumed, operators worked on the stabilization project on 260th St, and cross pipes were replaced on Merrimac Rd.