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Douglas County road and bridge discusses road construction

By Jim Allen

Chair Don Munson called the 4-13-22 Road and Bridge Subcommittee to order at 9:00 a.m.

County Engineer Jim Crane first reported on the status of the proposed Cronus Chemical plant west of Tuscola. To keep funds committed to the infrastructure of Cronus, the County Board must amend the original agreement which is to soon expire. The committee voted to present the Amendment to Extend Local Agency Agreement, between the State of Illinois and the County of Douglas, until May 5, 2024 to the full County Board.
Beniach Construction began work on the Harvest Ridge road reconstruction the week of March 21. Work is progressing as the weather permits. Champaign Asphalt was scheduled to begin work on April 18, but arrived yesterday, April 12. Work is ongoing, but again, the weather is hindering progress. Some completed work will need to be redone due to heavy rains that washed out some roads and filled culverts with mud. This extra work will be paid from contingency funds provided by EDPR. Crane is confident that the contingency funds will be adequate for any issues that are found as reconstruction goes forward. The project is approximately 21 percent complete.

The major bridge project over the Kaskaskia River has begun. The structure is removed, and construction of cofferdams is taking place. This part of the project has also been held up by the wet spring.

The Sargeant Township bridge over the Brushy Fork will be let for bids in September of this year. There was no comment on the filing of the Purple Lilliput Mussel on either the local, Army Corps of Engineers, or Department of Natural Resources, so the permit for building the bridge should be given in the next couple of months. Another reason for delaying the bid for the work is that no trees can be removed until late August due to the
mating season of bats. When the bid is approved, tree removal can be completed in the winter and the area will be ready for construction of the new bridge.

A resolution for setting reimbursements for work done for townships by the county will be updated in the near future. The current resolution is from September 9, 1969. This resolution allows the townships to use the resources of the county after which the townships pay the county for the services. This helps the townships to save money since the county does not figure a profit into the engineering fees. The resolution will not be adopted until review by the States Attorney and IDOT.

Bids were opened on 4-12-22, for bituminous materials and spreading. The increase in costs for material and spreading will cause maintenance plans to be modified or reduced. The estimate for materials was increased 15 percent in anticipation of increased costs, but the actual bid was almost 24 percent over the anticipated cost. A quick calculation shows that this is an increase of about 44 percent over last year. Therefore only about half of the road maintenance completed last year can be done this year. My observation is that the government printing money instead of solving problems is at the root of this situation as well as most other inflation. However, the indications are that road work will likely be curtailed to some extent due to the cost of material and services.

I noted that it is a very good thing that with Crane’s initiative, the county’s bridges have been brought up to standards in the last few years. We can drive on rock roads, which may be a possibility, but we cannot cross unsafe bridges. The bridge inspections in Douglas County are 100 percent complete.

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