Union County Engineer Steve Akes said his crew will be traveling a lot of miles to supervise as the construction season hits the area in full force early next week.
Work continues on the Highway 34 Platte River bridge replacement and two box culverts on REA Road. Projects on the Cromwell Road, High and Dry Road and bridge replacement on 167th Street start Aug. 18-19.
“The projects are almost as far apart as you can get in our county,” Akes said.
A change of crews delayed the early start Akes was hoping for on the Cromwell Road and High and Dry Road projects.
“They have been telling us they have been coming for a while,” Akes said. “Their working days start Monday and they don’t like losing days because they get penalized for every working day they run over.”
The late start date is Aug. 18. Akes said he received an email that said a subcontractor will start patch work on Cromwell Road Aug. 19. Patching takes about a week, then the subcontractor will start patching on the High and Dry Road.
Next, crews will cut slots in the concrete to get ready to place stabilizing dowel bars on the Cromwell Road first. The dowel bars interlock the joints of each concrete slab to make the road more vertically stable.
“They use a gang saw with multiple blades to cut the slots,” Akes said. “They need a two-week head start cutting the slots, so they will have a lot of cutting before they do anything else.”
The final step uses a machine to grind or profile the road to give it a smooth finish. Both roads should be completed within the 40-day contract.
“They are only going to be shutting down one lane at a time,” Akes said. “They wouldn’t gain much by closing down the whole road.”
The dowel bars retrofit design still allows the concrete to expand and contrast with temperature, but will prevent the small bumps between each slab as vehicles drive across.
Akes said installing the dowel bars should make the road smoother and extend the life of both roads.
Both projects are being paid for with farm-to-market road funds from the IDOT and through a federally funded program.
The bridge replacement on 167th Street is just east of the Yellow Rose Avenue intersection.
This project was not scheduled until next year, but Akes said the bridge design was finished sooner than expected. Instead of sitting on the funds and plans for a year, Akes said they decided to finish the project early.
“This time of year is going to help and it is dry to start,” Akes said. “But you never know what September and October will bring.”
The bridge is a slab bridge and will be replaced by Cunningham-Reis Company of Van Meter.
The road will be closed for close to three months.
The detour takes motorists south on Four Mile Creek Drive, then back west on 185th Street for about 1.5 miles. Next, the route goes south on Highway 169, then back east on Highway 34 for about 3.5 miles. Finally, the detour heads north on Clarke-Union Avenue to return to 167th Street.
Work is near 60 percent complete with less than 40 percent of the time alotted on the REA Road. Crews finished the two box culverts and will continue grading dirt.
“They have been lucky. I think they only had to miss three days because of the weather,” Akes said. “They will still have to use most of their scheduled time, but they are pretty much meeting their own schedule.”
Motorists have been navigating around another construction project that has closed down a section of Highway 34.
Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) reported the bridge carrying Highway 34 over the Platte River — 1.3 miles west of Highway 25 — closed while crews work to replace it.
Scott Nixon, IDOT resident construction engineer said the bridge is traveled by more than 2,000 motorists and will reopen as late as early September.
Construction crews from Cunningham-Reis Company of Van Meter will also grade and pave approximately 1,500 feet of approach pavement as part of the $2 million bridge replacement.