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Project approval pending

Friday, July 25, 2008

CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County officials are waiting on approval from state and federal highway officials for the county's latest Off-Systems Bridge Replacement Program project.

Dennis Cox of Smith and Company in Poplar Bluff presented county commissioners with a copy of the final plans for a 60-foot long and 24-foot wide bridge on County Road 522 crossing the Wolf Hole Lateral southeast of East Prairie during their regular meeting Thursday.

Cox also requested right-of-way information be placed on a document with a county letterhead.

The plans must be approved by both the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, according to Cox.

"We're submitting these to MoDOT," he said. "We should hear back from MoDOT on that and the right-of-way within a month or two."

Cox predicted they should be able to advertise for bids on the construction of the bridge by this fall.

The bridge design as presented included concrete box beams and guard rails that are 27 inches higher than the road surface, according to Cox.

Asked by commissioners if he could lower the guard rails to accommodate farm equipment, Cox said he would lower them to 16 inches.

"That's an easy change," he said.

Cox said the lower height for guard rails should be sufficient to keep vehicles on the bridge. "This is a straight road so nobody will be hitting it at an angle," he said.

In other business Thursday:

* Jim Blumenberg, presiding commissioner, said Apex Asphalt should begin laying hot mix asphalt in early August on the approved streets west of East Prairie.

As for the rest of the county's blacktopping program for this year, Blumenberg suggested they "seal about all we can seal this year."

He said the county's roads are not in bad shape overall and should be fine as long as they continue with regular maintenance each year.

Martin Lucas, commissioner, said they should have laid a chip-and-seal cap on Millar Road but it is now too "alligatored" for this method.

"That chip-and-seal was not a bad deal," Blumenberg said. County crews have been reluctant to use the method, however. Blumenberg said he doesn't know why as "it's easy to put down."

Commissioner Homer Oliver said using the chip-and-seal blacktop method allows the county to put overlays on more blacktop and that it holds up well as long as the holes are patched adequately first.

"That carried us a long way," Blumenberg agreed.

With the rising cost of asphalt, the county is going to have to use more cold mix asphalt in the future, Blumenberg said.

* County road and bridge department workers began spraying herbicide this weekend, according to Blumenberg.

"One started on the north end (of the county) in a truck and the other on the south," he said.

The spraying will be funded from the county's Johnson grass fund.

In related news, commissioners reappointed Jon Hutcheson and Albert Peters Jr. to new three-year terms on the county Johnson grass board.

* The county's total assessed valuation is $134 million, according to County Clerk Junior.

DeLay said the total value of personal property is down some while real estate is up with over $1 million in new construction.