April 22, 2024

County engineer discourages through traffic of Highway F-48 West

Phase 1 of resurfacing project to commence on March 18

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors awarded the F-48 West resurfacing project to Manatt's, Inc., which came in about $1 million under the engineer's estimate.

By March 18, the first phase of the Highway F-48 West resurfacing project will begin, and Jasper County Engineer Michael Frietsch is recommending all through traffic — particularly those drivers who like to use the highway to skip a few miles of Interstate 80 — to find other routes.

Technically, the road will be closed by Monday but will still remain passable. But the surface of the road will be rough by the time contractors mill out the asphalt, meaning employees of Performance Sign & Design or Westwood golfers, for example, will still be able to travel the road to make it to their destination.

“It’s closed to through traffic, which basically means we’re not hard closing,” Frietsch said in an interview with Newton News. “Local traffic can still get in and out of there. If you have a business along there you’ll still be able to get in and out … Only people with a reason to be on that road should be on that road.”

Newton News previously reported the contract for the project was awarded to Manatt’s, Inc. for $3.81 million. The engineer estimated the resurfacing would cost $4.7 million, putting the project nearly $1 million under estimate. The first phase of the project extends west from Newton/Lambs Grove past the Baxter interchange of Interstate 80, but it does not include the approaches.

Currently, Frietsch estimates the first phase of the project — the asphalt overlay — will be completed by August. When that is finished, concrete crews will come in. Frietsch said at that point Jasper County will hard close the interchange near F-48 West for about a month or so. Which means no through traffic at that section.

“You will not be able to get on F-48 West at that interchange at all,” Frietsch said. “You won’t be able to get from Newton to Colfax at all on that route.”

Frietsch said detours will be posted. For individuals driving on F-48 West to reach the interstate, the county engineer said they will have to drive toward Highway 14 and access I-80 from there. People leaving Baxter will have to go west on F-24 to Highway 117, where they can either enter Colfax or the I-80 interchange there.

In addition to the resurfacing, Frietsch said the project also provides some stormwater improvements to the Lambs Grove areas. Crews are going to mill four to five inches of asphalt from Thomas Jefferson Elementary to West 36th Street and then rebuild every stormwater inlet in that area.

“There are a whole bunch of inlets in that area that are either caved in or not open, so we’re going to reinstate the entire stormsewer system in Lambs Grove again,” Frietsch said. “Then we’re going to put in about three to four inches of new asphalt back in there and make it so everything drains again correctly.”

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.