August 19, 2022

New program lays out Jasper County engineering projects until 2026

Engineer’s 5-year program amendments approved

Several new amendments to the Jasper County engineer’s five-year program include more than a dozen bridges that are now set to be replaced by 2026.

The program, which is laid out and updated every year, contains every major project by the engineer’s office until 2026.

Multiple amendments to the program were introduced during the Jasper County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 4. County engineer Mike Frietsch presented amendments that changed the program to better fit with his plans for his office’s future.

The previous five-year program was submitted in April 2021, a few months before Frietsch was hired as the county engineer. Changes to the plan reflect what his department can realistically achieve in the coming years.

“When I took over I looked over the previous plan and I amended it to reflect what will be possible,” Frietsch said. “It’s also important that we’re sorting the plan out now so that we’re ready to submit our plan for 2023 in April.”

While several amendments were presented during the supervisors meeting, the most significant was of the inclusion of 14 new bridges that have been slated for replacement.

“Almost all of these bridge replacements will be locally funded by the county,” Frietsch said. “But they are needed.”

Nine of these bridge replacements are set to begin sometime within the 2022 fiscal year.

Another major of amendment to the plan was the addition of a 2026 schedule. The previous plan did not have anything scheduled for 2026. But with the new amendments the engineer’s office already has five bridge replacements laid out.

“I’ve been talking to my bridge crews and have been looking at the data and I think everything in the new plan is both doable and necessary,” Frietsch said.

The supervisors approved all of Frietsch’s amendments to the five-year program.

Frietsch later presented two outsourcing pitches for supplement agreements for construction phase services of two bridges. The board asked the reason behind the outsourcing. Frietsch said his department currently lacks the manpower to carry out all their inspection work and other tasks on the bridges.

“I see this as an insurance plan. We don’t want to need extra help with our inspections and not have it when we really need it,” Frietsch said.

The contracts provided by Frietsch state Calhoun-Burns & Associates, the company who will be carrying out the work, “will include attending a pre-construction meeting, assisting with on-site construction observation, reviewing shop drawing submittals, coordinating partial payments, assisting with documenting the construction materials used in the project, and coordinating the field testing required by the governing specifications.”

In addition, Calhoun-Burns will help maintain construction records for a possible post-construction review by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The combined cost of outsourcing these tasks and inspection work for both bridges came out to $68,000. But Frietsch clarifed the funding for the work will come from state-provided farm-to-market funds.

“These funds are, to put it basically, moneys from the state that support certain roads that provide farmers access to markets where they can sell their goods, and both bridges are located on those roads,” Frietsch said.

The board approved both agreements.

Contact Abby Knipfel at 641-792-4687 ext. 6531 or

Abby Knipfel

Abby "Adler" Knipfel

Journalist at Newton Daily News. Currently covering Jasper County and writing passionate opinion pieces. They/Them