Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss hopes that work can begin constructing a temporary roadway on the closed portion of New London Road on Lowell Hill late next week.
Hotchkiss told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that a contractor is continuing to remove excess material from the road, which he called “overburden.”
“The contractor continues to remove the overburden and will begin constructing a temporary road with granular surfacing later next week depending on the weather,” Hotchkiss said. “We’re hoping to get a temporary surface, which would be a rock surface.”
He cautioned that the plan is contingent on an end to the roadway moving.
The road was closed because a portion of the land began breaking up and sliding down the hillside to the Skunk River.
Hotchkiss explained that the county has a 50-foot right of way on both sides of the road, enabling crews to move the road away from the hillside.
“We moved the road over quite a bit and lowered the profile,” he said. “Things look like they’re stable right now, but things can change.
“We shifted our road anywhere from 20 to 30 feet to the south.”
He said that the temporary road will be 28 feet wide and have a narrow shoulder on the south side and sharp curves.
Hotchkiss told the supervisors that he plans to bring a resolution next week to reduce the speed limit through the area to 25 miles per hour.
He reported that the county was successful in getting the damage added to a June emergency proclamation that came after heavy rains caused damage around the state.
Hotchkiss said the he believes the damage was caused by heavy rains that raised the level of the Skunk River. When the river level dropped, it pulled moisture from the hillside causing the road slide.
Being included in the declaration means that the county could be eligible for Emergency Relief (ER) money to help cover the cost of repairs and rebuilding the road.
“Assuming the ER eligibility, the temporary work that we’re doing right now might be eligible for reimbursement,” Hotchkiss said. “Hopefully, the permanent solution will be eligible for reimbursement. It won’t be 100 percent.”