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HMA Overlay Project bid awarded to Heartland Asphalt

By Kelly Terpstra,

The Iowa Department of Transportation Commission approved the Federal-Aid Swap more than a year ago.

The controversial bill, which was signed by former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, allows the Iowa DOT to receive federal funds that would normally go directly to cities. Those federal dollars are sent to municipalities in Iowa via state money, thus eliminating federal paperwork that can drive up costs on construction projects.

Charles City is seeing the first benefit of this program and received $920,000 of SWAP funding from the Iowa DOT to begin the HMA Overlay Project this summer. The project will lay down hot mix asphalt on North Jackson and South Main streets.

The final plans and bid were approved by the Charles City Council on Wednesday. The bid was awarded to Heartland Asphalt  of Mason City for almost $806,000. City Engineer John Fallis’ estimated cost on the project was $890,000. Blacktop Services was the second bid at over $943,000. Fourteen easements were also approved as part of the project.

“We don’t have to have any city participation. It’s 100 percent funded,” said Fallis.

Fallis said any grant money that is not used in the project will go back to the North Iowa Area Council of Governments (NIACOG) pool.

The project on both streets will lay down 3,650 feet of asphalt. There will be minor repairs to the concrete curb and gutter, improvements to sewer intakes, construction of curb ramps for sidewalks and storm sewer extension on South Main.

Also at the regular meeting Monday evening:

• The final design plans were approved to construct new windows and entryway door at the building at 401 N. Main. The building houses the Charles City Chamber of Commerce, Area Development Corp. and the Community Revite Group.

The remodel will feature an upgraded new vestibule that will incorporate a visitor’s information center open 24 hours a day for visitors to pick up pamphlets about Charles City.

“It kind of ties in with our Wayfinding Project, so now we’ll be able to put visitor’s information to help guide them to that area,” said City Administrator Steve Diers.

The makeover will also include the replacement of windows and construction of a new front entry door and back door. New lettering will also be placed on the building.

“Right now we’ve got glass in there that’s not very effective in keeping the heat in and the cold out or vice versa. The doors will frost over and often times will freeze shut,” said Diers.  

The project is estimated to cost just over $51,000. Diers said the city has saved $40,000 in the general fund to be able to go ahead with the work that has been approved. The city also received a $10,000 hotel/max tax grant to assist in the funding.

• The first reading of an ordinance that amends the city code to allow abutting property owners to trim trees in the right of way was approved.

City code states that it is the duty of the property owner to keep trees in the right of way trimmed to a height of 15 feet above the street and 8 feet above the sidewalk.

“It’s a pretty big change in that we’ve required property owners to trim those trees. We just haven’t given them ability to do it themselves. They’ve had to hire somebody licensed to do it. They’re still responsible for doing it. They can just do it on their own,” said Diers.

Diers did say that if property owners thought that the work was beyond their means or too big of a task, to hire a licensed professional to trim the trees.

• The second reading of ordinance 1128, which deals with regulations for the connection of sump pump systems into the public stormwater sewer system, was approved by the council.

Prior to this proposed ordinance, individual agreements with property owners and the city were arranged to allow connection to the storm sewer system. This is a way for people to keep sump pump water from flowing into streets. 

• A public hearing was set for May 6 to review the application for the (SRF) State Revolving Fund Loan. That hearing will also include making public the environmental aspects of the new water resource recovery facility.

• Marks Wicks, community development director, made requests for use of city property and street closures for the Cedar River Shiver this Saturday. Wicks said a determination will probably be made Wednesday if the event will be held as scheduled because of the high level of the Cedar River.

“It’s still on for this Saturday, depending on what the river does,” said Wicks.

• Mayor Dean Andrews appointed Beth Diers to replace Stewart Coulson on the Public Housing Board.

Council members Keith Starr and Dan Mallaro were not present at the meeting.