Barry Horst and Tonya Wells from the Missouri Department of Transportation met with Mississippi County commissioners during their regular meeting Thursday to discuss what MoDOT will be doing this year and how it will affect the county.
"We've got some work planned," said Horst. "We don't want to have this stuff just pop up on people."
Horst said this is the biggest construction year MoDOT has had in 20 years. Wells said there will be more than 1,000 work zones throughout the state. She suggested trying the new e-updates service available at MoDOT's Website (http://www.modot.state.mo.us) which can check by route or by county for construction. "That ought to be a good resource over the next couple of years with all the work zones," Wells said.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is actually the lead state on the first project Horst discussed: the replacement of expansion joints in the deck of the bridge connecting Missouri with Cairo, Ill.
"We aim to squeeze another 30-40 years of life out of the bridge," Horst said. If the work is not completed, the bridge would be in very bad shape within 10 years, he said.
The plan is to do both lanes at the same time so the bridge will be closed for between a month and six weeks during which time the nearest crossing will be Interstate 57. MoDOT and Illinois DOT officials hope to see the bridge project take place beginning in mid-June.
Horst said it is possible Kentucky transportation crews will also do work to the bridge linking their state with Illinois but one lane at a time.
Horst also discussed MoDOT's Smooth Roads Initiative which he said will include the rehabilitation of almost all of Interstate 55 and all of I-57.
MoDOT crews have already completed 8,000 patches since December, Horst said, and other preparation.
A lot of the rehabilitation will consist of "diamond grinding," according to Horst, a process which uses several diamond cutters side by side to form a big grinding wheel. Diamond grinnding will be used to mill between one-
quarter and three-quarters of an inch off the concrete's surface. "When they get done it will be much, much smoother," he said.
"Superpave" 3.75 inch-thick asphalt overlays will be laid in some places where the concrete is too far gone, Horst said, and in others places MoDOT will use an experimental precast concrete slab.
MoDOT will also be replacing the shoulders on I-57 which don't last long because of the high water table causing voids under the asphalt, Horst said.
In other Mississippi County business:
* Many county budgets are already halfway spent at only one-third of the way through the year, according to commissioners.
"There should be about two-thirds of the budget left," County Clerk Junior DeLay said.
"It's all related to fuel costs," said Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg. "It's just a snowball effect on everything."
* Construction on the new Four Mile Pond Bridge will begin in mid-July at the earliest, according to Dennis Cox of Smith and Company, as bids will be opened at 10 a.m. June 9.
Removal of the existing bridge will have to wait until just before construction starts as it is still being used.
"We'll probably take it out the last week of June," Blumenberg said.
The county will also clear the area of vegetation, a task which will primarily consist of mowing.
* McIvan Jones of rural East Prairie was appointed to the county's Variance Committee. The committee considers requests for variances from requirements of the county flood plain ordinance, DeLay said.
* Commissioners will decide next week whether or not to accept the sole bid to conduct an audit on the county following DeLay's review of the bid to make sure it meets all stipulations.
The audit, which must be completed by September, is required for 2004 because the county exceeded $500,000 in federal grants that year, according to DeLay.
DeLay said he expected more bids. The bid from Brown and Thomas CPAs of Jackson was for $8,775. "From what I've heard from other entities, that's pretty much in line," he said of the cost.
The price may be negotiable, DeLay said, as a lot of the grant money was passed through the county for the Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in East Prairie which has annual audits.
* Commissioners reviewed the procedure to close a road.
First a petition must be signed by 12 people in the township who do not object to the closure. Then the county must advertise for and hold a public hearing.
* Blumenberg said there was a mix-up regarding comments about U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grants during the previous meeting.
He clarified that Rural Development grants do not have any low-to-moderate income requirements. Community Development Block Grants have the LMI requirement.
* Commissioners reviewed a letter from C&A Surety, the bonding company for the former sheriff, requesting a list of the sheriff's official duties along with what duties he allegedly failed to satisfy.
DeLay said the official duties are found in the state statutes.
The failure in duties is related to money the state auditor determined to be missing from the sheriff's department, commissioners said.