The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

January 15, 2014

Road negotiations a concern in VB County

KEOSAUQUA — Negotiations have begun between Van Buren County and the Iowa DOT concerning the transfer of jurisdiction of Highway 98, which is from Leando to Highway 16. One Van Buren County supervisor said Monday he would like to see the state pay the county $1.5 million per mile.

A representative of the Iowa Department of Transportation, Jim Armstrong, was present at the supervisors' meeting Monday morning to discuss the issue. Also present was Jeff Owen. Armstrong is District No. 5 Engineer for the Iowa DOT. This district covers 20 counties in southeast Iowa. Owen is district No. 5 maintenance manager.

“We see this as an opportunity for Van Buren County,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong said the last time the DOT transferred a state highway (No.15) to Van Buren County, Highway 98 was also considered.

“At that time, Van Buren County had a deep concern over the condition of the Des Moines River bridge at Douds,” Armstrong said. “We understood. It had no redundant features, so a failure of one piece meant a complete failure.”

Since then, the DOT has begun the process of replacing it.

“We will spend $6 million to replace the bridge, and we leave an investment there for the county,” Armstrong said. The bridge also has the capacity to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Armstrong was asked about the life expectancy of the bridge.

“We always talk about the life expectancy of a bridge as 50 years,” he said. “In reality, it’s about 75 years.”

The current Highway 98 bridge was constructed in the 1950s, according to County Auditor Jon Finney.

However, the supervisors were still skeptical.

“I realize in 50 years I won’t be sitting here, but 50 years ago, the DOT gave us the Bonaparte bridge,” said Supervisor Ted Nixon. And now, the county is looking at spending money to maintain the bridge in the next few years.

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