Supervisors hear North Center Street bridge detour concerns

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS – About 40 county residents attend Tuesday’s board meeting, many of whom spoke to concerns about an upcoming detour route as the North Center Street bridges are worked on in coming months and years.

After several years of planning, the North Center Street bridge replacement project is set to get underway next month, but some residents north of Marshalltown have taken issue with a planned detour route into the city.

Michelle Gauthier of 186th Street off of Sand Road spoke and organized a large group of area residents to attend Tuesday’s Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting. They came to talk about their concerns about a two-mile stretch of gravel roads meant to take them to Iowa Highway 14 during the estimated two- or three-year project.

“This is not an adequate road, we need to have a hard surface to get out of there,” she said. “I know the bridges need to be done … but we have to have a way better detour.”

Gauthier said many semi trucks used the detour during a recent three-week period when the North Center Street bridges were temporarily closed. She said those trucks in particular present a risk to other drivers.

“It’s so scary when you meet them. I don’t want to get hit, I don’t want anybody to get hit, I don’t want my daughter to get hit,” she said.

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS – This is one of the bridges set to be replaced in coming years on North Center Street.

The detour is set to take residents like Gauthier on Reed Avenue going north, and then on 182nd Street going east to meet up with Iowa Highway 14, giving them a route into Marshalltown as the bridges are being replaced.

Many of the residents who spoke said they had safety concerns about the Reed Avenue-182nd Street detour. One concern had to do with a hill on Reed which they said caused a risk because a driver has a hard time seeing oncoming traffic going on the hill on the other side of the road.

Another concern was the T intersection of Reed and 182nd, which they said had been torn up by heavy semi truck traffic. A third issue discussed was the intersection of 182nd and Highway 14, which many residents said was unsafe in part because of the speed of drivers on the state highway.

“Can’t the county work with the DOT to give us some kind of safety control at the intersection on (Highway) 14?” said Sand Road resident Tom Moeller. “I cannot believe we can’t get some flashing lights or something for when we’re turning. When people are leaving Marshalltown, they’re in a hurry to get out of town. They’re not driving 55.”

The supervisors said they had a limited ability to address the issues raised, but said they would do some things to try to help the situation.

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS – This T intersection at Reed Avenue and 182nd Street is on the planned detour. Some residents said it is hard to see when turning on this intersection.

“Without question, the maintenance will have to be stepped up because of the traffic,” said board Vice President Dave Thompson.

The supervisors said they planned to lower the speed limit along the detour to 35 mph. Thompson said he planned to talk to Marshall County Sheriff Steve Hoffman later Tuesday about enhancing traffic patrols in the area and encouraged the residents to contact the sheriff’s office and ask for more patrols.

He also said he would speak to Marshalltown Water Works General Manager Shelli Lovell about addressing the alleged high speeds of contracted semi truck drivers in the area.

“I don’t see any problem with us contacting the state DOT and seeing if we can get some controls,” Thompson said of adding warning signs or lights where 182nd Street meets Highway 14.

Many residents asked about having a hard surface put down on the gravel detour. The county officials said that was not a viable option for the stretch of roads in question because they are not stable enough for such a surface.

“Here’s where I’m at – I definitely want the 35 mph speed limit. (County Engineer) Paul (Geilenfeldt) said he would maintain, make sure the dust control is done. If it needs to be done every two to three weeks, then so be it,” said board Chairman Steve Salasek.

He also said he would have extra focus on ensuring good snow removal in the winter months and checking on getting lighted warnings at the Highway 14 intersection.

No official board action was taken on the issue Tuesday. Marshall County Auditor and Recorder Nan Benson took down dozens of attendees’ contact information to keep them updated on the road situation in their area.

The next Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting is set for 9:05 a.m. Aug. 6 on the second floor of the Great Western Bank Building, 11 N. First Ave.

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Contact Adam Sodders at 641-753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com