Cedar Valley Transportation Center coming up on milestone mark
By Kelly Terpstra, firstname.lastname@example.org
As far as concepts go, the Cedar Valley Transportation Center turned out to be a significant win for everyone involved.
The year 1995 may seem like a distant memory now, but that’s when the idea to build one location for all of Floyd County’s road work and repair needs first blossomed.
“It was a great venture and we’re lucky that it happened,” said Charles City Street Superintendent Dirk Uetz.
The Cedar Valley Transportation Center has been in operation in Floyd County for more than 19 years since it opened in November 2000.
The $3.75 million facility on the south side of Charles City — thought to be the first of its kind in the state — houses the Charles City Street Department, the Floyd County Secondary Road Department and the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT).
“I don’t recall if they’ve ever had a triple entity like this. I don’t even know if there’s been a double entity,” said Dusten Rolando, the county engineer for both Floyd and Chickasaw counties.
The CVTC is a three-pronged approach to improving and maintaining streets, roads and highways within the county. The center is a hybrid operation that features its own fuel depot and sand/salt building that cuts costs and increases efficiency.
“It’s the openness all the way around for everything, whether it’s sharing equipment, sharing the expertise of everything going on out there, the fuel facility,” said Rolando. “It’s all under one roof. It’s kind of nice.”
The idea to house three separate governmental operations in the same building was first discussed in 1995. The thought was to help all entities involved in road work and repair to have access to one single location to pick up and load the sand/salt mix needed for winter roads.
“When we weren’t here, everybody had to have their own salt pile. So there’s three salt piles in town – three sand piles,” Uetz said.
The creation of the Avenue of the Saints (Highway 27) through Floyd County around 2000 was also a pivotal moment.
“The state needed to get closer to the Avenue,” said Uetz.
Uetz was hired at the street department in 1993 and became superintendent in 2007. He oversees eight full-time employees.
Uetz said the old location of the city street department was in the floodplain and the county’s building was getting old. So, he said, it made sense to move into one new unit.
Tools are shared and knowledge is handed down from one department to another at the common site. That may mean fixing endloaders, working on engines or replacing tires.
“You have all your resources in one spot,” said Uetz. “When everybody had their own building, you had to go someplace else and now you’re right here. You can talk to everybody, basically on a daily basis.”
Initially there were some concerns over how the three separate agencies could collaborate.
“Actually everybody thought it was going to be kind of hard to come out, but it actually fell right into place and worked out perfect from day one to where we are now,” said Uetz. “Everybody has a good working relationship with each other.”
Each department shares in the cost of common supplies. The ability to buy in bulk increases purchasing power and lowers costs, saving money for the departments — and the taxpayers.
The sand/salt building can store up to 4,000 tons of sand/salt mix, and Uetz said all three departments go through about 500-600 tons of 50/50 mix annually depending on how harsh the winter is. More than 10,000 gallons of brine are used each year. Surrounding communities in the county like Rudd, Rockford or Marble Rock can also purchase or order the mix to treat their roadways.
Rolando said Chickasaw County also buys mix from the CVTC.
The mammoth facility features a fuel depot, cold storage areas, wash bays, an automatic truck wash, mechanic area, truck lifts, overhead cranes, welding areas and parts room. The building also houses offices, restrooms, dispatch and meeting rooms.
The main truck shed area has 36 bays, 18 doors and is 196 feet wide by 167 feet deep.
Rolando said there are 11 full-time state employees and 27 with his department. Rolando took over as Floyd County engineer in January 2001, shortly after the CVTC was opened on Nov. 17, 2000.
Rolando and Uetz each said several people associated with creation of the 50,000 square-foot main facility toured a similar setup in Hutchinson, Minnesota, prior to the groundbreaking taking place at the CVTC site in September 1999.
The CVTC Joint Facility Board is comprised of Rolando, Charles City City Clerk Trudy O’Donnell and IDOT Iowa District 2 Maintenance Manager Randy Taylor.
The facility has seen its fair share of upgrades over the years. Acoustic tile was put up the second year the facility was in operation. Uetz said LED lights were installed about four years ago and four big fans were added for circulation a short time later. He said a new roof is on the agenda for the future.
“We’re just very fortunate to have it,” said Uetz. “It’s a great facility. It’s surprising more towns haven’t gone to it.”