BY LEANN DILBECK –
Work is well underway repairing the over $767,000 worth of damages the county sustained during the May floods. Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison explained that because the county is receiving FEMA funds, the process is quite bureaucratic but progress is being made.
FEMA has named Ronnie Smith as the Project Specialist to document the repairs for FEMA compliance. Ellison explained that “project worksheets” are required and average six pages in length. “It’s a narrative of damage, quantities of time and material needed to repair damage, location of sites, estimations of labor and equipment.” Ellison said he has spent several hours with him viewing sites, including all of the damaged bridge sites.
The Polk County Road Department has completed repairs on 18 projects since the May flood damage. Trying diligently to expedite the process of repair and not miss any federal reimbursements, Ellison said, “We tried to mimic the project worksheets that we thought FEMA would write so that it would expedite the process. We carefully documented all materials, equipment and time, complete with disaster photographs to present to FEMA.”
Ellison explained that it is a slow process, and “I expect it to take 2 months. We are yet to receive any funds and I don’t expect any for at least a month….there is just a tremendous amount of paperwork required.”
Six bridges were damaged to the degree of being impassable. A 32-foot bridge on Polk 62 near Board Camp, a 60-foot bridge on Polk 41 near New Potter, an approximate 34-foot bridge on Polk 45 near Mena, a 30-foot bridge on Polk 45 near Mena, a 30-foot bridge on Polk 301 near the Highland community, and a 40-foot bridge on Polk 664 east of Board Camp.
Adding to the workload is the routine scheduled summer paving projects. “The road department is continuing to repair flood damage but we are having to prepare for our scheduled summer projects, all at the same time.”
Three roads are scheduled to receive overlay during the summer road improvement project funded partially by the annual state-aid program.
The first is Polk Road 32: starting at the Cove city limits and going east for three miles. Polk 32 will also receive some drainage improvement. The existing paving will be “leveled” with a variable depth of hot mix asphalt in specified locations. Once the leveling has cured for two to three weeks, a seal of emulsified asphalt and 3/8 inch aggregate will be applied for the finished driving surface.
Next will be Polk Road 48: starting at the intersection of Polk 39 and going west, near New Potter. Polk 48 will have improved drainage work in the form of new culverts and expanded borrow ditches. The existing pavement will be leveled with hot mix asphalt in specified areas. After curing, a seal of emulsified asphalt and 3/8 inch aggregate will be applied. Approximately 30% of the existing pavement will be removed and the sub base will be reshaped and 6 inches of new gravel base will be added. The new base will then be primed and when cured, a double layer of emulsified asphalt and 3/8 inch aggregate will be applied. The total mileage of this site is 2.5 miles.
The final summer paving project is on Polk Road 63: starting at Highway 88 near Yocana and going south for 4.8 miles and ending at Highway 8 in Board Camp. Extensive drainage work has been performed on Polk 63 with several new drainpipes and ditch work. Some of the existing pavement has been removed and more will be. In those areas, the grade will be elevated and new gravel base will be added. Any portion that does not have a hardened surface will receive a coat of primer and a double layer of emulsified asphalt and aggregate. Specified areas of existing pavement will receive asphalt leveling before a final driving surface of emulsified asphalt and aggregate.
The total estimated cost of this project is $625,000. “Our state allocation this year is $217,000 and we saved $38,000 from last year, making the state’s contribution for this project $255,000.”
The total length of the summer road resurfacing project is 10.3 miles. The total length of the spring resurfacing project was 11.2 miles.
With a very ambitious schedule of on-going projects ahead of him, Ellison remains optimistic and determined. “I am being optimistic. I plan to complete disaster damage repair, our summer paving project, and a fall paving project by the end of the year.”