Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — Jefferson County Engineer Scott Cline will retire from his post after serving the residents of Jefferson County for the past nine years.
Cline announced that June 30 will be his last day. The county will need to replace him and his assistant, Brent LaPoint, who is stepping down to take another job.
Cline oversaw a number of major upgrades to the county’s roads and bridges. He said the three projects he is most proud of during his tenure as county engineer are:
- Replacing 28 bridges with railroad tank cars, which allowed them to carry more weight.
- Fixing roads that were on RAGBRAI’s route through Jefferson County in 2013 and 2019.
- Overseeing a $6.5 million bond project in 2020 to resurface Pleasant Plain Road near the town of Pleasant Plain, Germanville Road near the border with Washington County, Brookville Road, Packwood Road and Vetch Boulevard near Lockridge.
Cline said the use of railroad tank cars to serve as bridge replacements was a fairly novel concept when he arrived in Jefferson County. Cline saw that a large number of dirt and gravel roads in the county went over bridges with weight limits. The weight limits prevented farmers from driving over them with a load of grain. Cline said he is happy to have played a role helping residents move their goods throughout the county.
On RAGBRAI, Cline said he was proud of the fact that the cyclists were complimentary of Jefferson County’s roads, and that he never heard one complaint about that. Members of the RAGBRAI committee scope out the route months in advance, and communicate any concerns about roads to local engineers so that problems can be fixed before the cyclists arrive.
“We just make sure we won’t have any bicycle accidents because of a pothole,” Cline said.
The county supervisors’ decision to bond for $6.5 million to repair roads in 2020 was more than the secondary roads department’s annual budget of $5 million, making it the most ambitious road repair project in at least a decade. Cline said people who live on the resurfaced roads have expressed their appreciation to him and other county officials for the project.
Budding bridge builder
Cline is from Marshalltown, and that is where his interest in engineering began. He said he was always fascinated with bridges even as a little kid. He remembers coming up with ideas for building a bridge across the creek behind his house so his grandfather could drive his farm machinery on it.
Cline graduated from Iowa State University in 1979 with a degree in civil engineering. He has put his engineering skills to work at several jobs, including as a design assistant for Madison County, Iowa, in his final two years at college. He worked under a county engineer, and later in his career thought it would be nice to get back into county engineering.
But before doing that, Cline spent 12 years working for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources designing state park recreation areas and wildlife areas. He worked on all the DNR projects the state did at Lake Sugema near Keosauqua such as designing the boat ramps, parking lots and fishing jetties.
“I’ve done one project in at least half the counties in Iowa,” Cline said.
Cline worked for the Missouri Department of Transportation for 20 years in its Macon office. The state planned to eliminate the Macon district and move Cline to St. Louis. Instead of moving to the big city, Cline decided he wanted to move closer to his hometown, and found an opening in Jefferson County.
Cline is not sure what he will do in retirement or where he might go. He said he enjoys metal detecting as a hobby, and hopes to find time to do that.
“My wife, Leisa, and I are ready to start a new adventure,” Cline said.