Jefferson County set for $300,000 in federal funds

FAIRFIELD — Jefferson County is expected to receive close to $300,000 in road funds from the federal government’s COVID-19 relief package.

Jefferson County Engineer Scott Cline addressed the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning about information he had received from the Iowa Department of Transportation, which included estimates for the amount of money each county and city in the state would receive from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.

The DOT’s estimate shows Jefferson County receiving about $219,000 from the state revolving fund, and about $77,000 from the farm-to-market road fund. The DOT estimated the city of Fairfield would receive about $90,000. Other towns in the county would receive smaller amounts, such as Batavia receiving about $4,800, Libertyville about $3,000 and Packwood about $1,900.

The money is meant to compensate these jurisdictions for the drop in road use tax fund revenue in 2020, which resulted from people driving less, using less gas, and thus paying less gas tax.

“These estimates are not etched in stone, and they are subject to some modification,” Cline said. “But it does sound like we’re going to get something.”

The federal aid package sets aside $121.9 million in road funding for Iowa, which was to be divided as follows: 47.5 percent to the state, 32.5 percent to counties and 20 percent to cities.

Cline said he has not been informed when the county might receive these funds.

“I took it that we’d probably get [the money] before July. That’s my guess,” he said.

The DOT estimate shows the neighboring counties of Washington and Henry receiving $393,000 and $324,000, respectively, from the federal aid package.

In other news, Cline said the weather has been bad enough lately that his crews haven’t been able to dig any ditches and that they’ve been doing nothing but moving snow.

“It’s just a little at a time, but it keeps coming,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of problems with drifting. The light snow hangs around on the fields, and the wind comes up and creates drifts even on days it doesn’t snow.”

Cline said he’s gotten several requests from county residents to plow their driveways. He said the county doesn’t do such a thing.

“A lot of people say, ‘It’d only take 5-10 minutes for you to plow my driveway,’ but with thousands of driveways, that would take a lot of time,” he said.

The county has a few upcoming bridge replacements, one on 257th Street just west of Highway 1 and another on 146th Boulevard over Burr Oak Creek on the east side of the county. Cline said funding for the 257th bridge was bundled with a couple of bridges in Wapello County, and the contractor will replace the Wapello County bridges first. He said it could be fall until the contractor can start on the bridge in Jefferson County.

Cline said the 146th Boulevard bridge was bundled with a bridge in Lee County and one in Van Buren County. The Jefferson County bridge will be replaced last in the bunch. That one might not be replaced until spring 2022.