OTTUMWA — The Wapello County Board of Supervisors will decide today whether they want to replace the deteriorating bridge over the Des Moines River into Chillicothe.

“This is the last opportunity the public will have to voice any concerns they have about that project,” said Supervisor Greg Kenning. “After [today] the resolution will be signed and everything will move forward with the project.”

If approved, the county plans to move forward with the option that provides the cleanest and shortest route, along with the least amount of grading required. The current bridge is in bad shape from years of wear and tear and is too narrow. The new bridge will be built about one-fourth of a mile upstream from the old bridge.

Along with a new river bridge, a bridge will be built over the railroad tracks, eliminating a rail crossing. This is part of the railroad’s national effort to eliminate 25 percent of crossings. Paving about 5-6 miles of Rock Bluff Road is also included in the project.

The project will cost an estimated $7.5 million — about $5.35 million will come from I-JOBS grant money, while the remaining monies will come from county and city bridge funds.

Officials hope to start work in the spring or summer of 2010. The entire project will take about three years to complete.

The supervisors will also set a date and time for a public hearing about closing a portion of 35th Street in southwest Wapello County, in Adams Township. The closure would be near 220th Avenue and 47th Street.

“The reason for that, this particular one [has been the] target of vandalism. The property owner, for their protection, wants to have more limited access to that,” Kenning said, adding that he wasn’t sure the details of the vandalism.

Before the board can take action on the proposal, they have to hold a public hearing.

“The purpose of the public hearing to try to come to terms with anything we haven’t thought of yet,” Kenning said.

If approved, gates would be installed, closing the street to everyone but the property owners, county officials and the utilities company.

After the public hearing, the board will consider changing a portion of 35th Street from a Level B road to Level C. Level A streets are well maintained, while Level B streets only get maintained when needed, and Level C roads are closed.

“Most of the roads around here are Level A, which means we take care of them, plow them when they fill up with snow, pot holes are filled,” Kenning said.

The meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. today in the board room on the third floor of the Wapello County Courthouse.

Pat Shaver can be reached at (641) 683-5360 or by e-mail at


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