DIKE — Kenny Hill remains optimistic but skeptical that Grundy Road will be paved past his rural home.
“I bought my house in 1973, and they promised a hard-surfaced road in five years,” he said. “I’ve been looking for it for 40-some years.”
Hill was among about 70 Black Hawk and Grundy county residents who showed up Wednesday for a public informational meeting about paving the five-mile stretch of the gravel county-line road from U.S. Highway 20 south to Zanetta Road.
Supervisors from both counties, which are expected to split the estimated $8 million bill for the project, attended the meeting. Originally scheduled for a church on Grundy Road, the meeting was moved to the Dike Community Hall due to muddy road conditions.
While most speaking at the forum voiced support for the paving project, not everyone supported the cost.
“I think that $4 million could be much better spent,” said one Grundy County resident, who said there are many other gravel roads in the county in poor condition.
The Grundy County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 last year to bond for the paving, with Mark Schildroth, Chuck Bakker and Harlyn Riekena voting favor of the project and Jim Ross and Barb Smith voting against it. Riekena is now retired.
The Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to include the project in its five-year plan submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation, but future votes will be required to move the project forward.
“You’d be surprised how much Highway 20 has affected the road,” said Grundy County Engineer Gary Mauer.
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The mile just south of U.S. 20 carried only 80 vehicles per day in 1985 before the current four-lane highway opened. It now carries 360 vehicles per day, including many trucks and heavy farm equipment. The farthest southern mile of the project caries 120 vehicles per day.
“That’s a lot of traffic for a gravel road,” Mauer said.
Black Hawk County Engineer Cathy Nicholas said the road has become a maintenance nightmare due to the heavy traffic it carries, especially when frost heave occurs in the spring. Black Hawk County maintains the road through an intergovernmental agreement with Grundy County.
County road crews have been placing 500 tons of rock per mile on Grundy Road every year, while a normal county road receives 300 tons of rock per mile every three years, Nicholas said.
The county placed more than 800 tons of rock on this portion of Grundy Road from March 19 to April 16 this year.
Nicholas noted there has been discussion in the past about paving the road.
“Historically we have never gotten this far,” she said. “We are ready to start buying right-of-way.”
Assistant Black Hawk County Engineer Ryan Brennan said he expects to begin contacting landowners about right-of-way acquisition this summer.
The expected schedule calls for utilities to be relocated in 2020; grading and culvert installation slated for 2021; and a new asphalt surface to be laid in 2022.