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County receives grants for bridge replacements

The state of Iowa has been awarded over $33 million from a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will be used to improve 77 bridges across the state, including two in rural Webster County.

A bridge on 120th Street and on Mining Boulevard will be completely replaced thanks to the new funds. Both bridges, built in the 1950s, have been in desperate need of replacement after years of periodic maintenance, according to Jamie Johll, Webster County engineer.

The bridges have been earmarked in the county’s five-year program for replacement, but new funding will free up local resources that otherwise would have been spent on them.

Johll said he anticipates a ground breaking on the bridges in June 2020, after designs, engineering permits, Department of Transportation approval and bid letting. The projects are slated to be complete by the end of 2020.

The federal government established the Competitive Highway Bridge Program, granting $225 million for bridge replacements in rural states, 25 of which qualified.

“The program was set up to encourage bundling of multiple projects and thus lower costs,” said Johll.

In conjunction with other county engineers, Johll has been working with the Iowa Department of Transportation to apply for the $33,442,000 in funds for the entire state. In addition to Webster County’s bridges, five city bridges, four IDOT bridges and 66 other county bridges in 45 counties will be upgraded.

“This is great news for our community,” said Iowa House Rep. Ann Meyer, R–Fort Dodge. “This grant will help to ensure that motorists have safe roads and bridges to travel on and will benefit farmers as they haul their product to market.”

The grant provides funding for 80% of the total project cost with particular stipulations for the length and traffic count of bridges eligible. Johll said the county’s remaining portion will be funded by a local match with money from the state.