All signs point to a busy road building season

MADISON – A cement shortage and a delay in procuring supplies last year caused construction delays, including about 13 miles of Madison County resurfacing projects.

Those projects, totaling approximately $4.9 million, along with approximately 10 miles of new projects that will be tendered on Thursday, March 23, are expected to make up one of the busiest years for road construction in the county in recent history.

The Madison County Board of Commissioners conducted a public hearing and approved the one- and six-year county road projects Tuesday. Overall, it totaled about $27 million in projects.

Dick Johnson, Madison County highway superintendent, said the overlays last year were not completed. Western Engineering had the offer.

The problem was a shortage of concrete, the county was trying to stabilize some roads, and Western couldn’t get enough help, Johnson said.

“We made an agreement with them that if they did the south mile on South First Street (Norfolk) last year, we would let them go until spring of this year, with the idea in mind that we would offer more asphalt ( projects),” Johnson said. “Hopefully, they’ll jump in and be interested in that, so we’ve had a lot of that this year.”

Last year’s projects, which are in the tender and procurement stage, will be completed, along with bids for roofing this year.

This year’s overlay projects cover approximately 10 miles, including:

“Three miles north of the Elkhorn River on the spur of Battle Creek.

— 544th Avenue, about 1 mile, south of Norfolk.

– 836th Road from Highway 81, 2 miles West. Much of this road was lost in the 2019 flood.

— Norfolk’s Broken Bridge Road, about three-quarters of a mile west of the bridge toward where the city takes over, which is about one-quarter of a mile south of Omaha Avenue.

– Battle Creek 839th Road, 3rd and 4th miles W of Highway 121. The first 2 miles were completed a few years ago.

— North of Battle Creek, 840th Road, which is also McCallister Street. It will be a cooperative effort with the City of Battle Creek, covering approximately one mile.

Since the projects have not been tendered, it is not known how much they will cost. The estimate is about $4 million for about 10 miles.

Other projects include three bridges in the County-bridge meeting program. The match program funds 55% of the eligible bridge construction cost (up to $250,000) with counties providing a 45% match.

Madison County has now selected 14 bridges to replace over seven years. This year’s three bridges are located in the southern part of the county, replacing three wooden bridges with culverts.

The county will also replace the Victory Road Bridge, where one person was shot and killed last June. The address is 3000 N. Victory Road.

That area is close to the road leading to the Norfolk Crush plant, which is under construction. The replacement of the bridge will result in the closure of Victory Road for a significant amount of time.

Johnson said that with part of Victory Road due to be closed for up to 90 days when the bridge is replaced, he hopes it will be finished before roadwork on First Street begins.

The Norfolk Crush project includes approximately half a mile of First Street improvements with concrete. It starts on the Northeast Industrial Highway and goes north just past the Norfolk Crush entrance.

Along with that, concrete will be poured for a concrete acreage in the half mile west of Nucor Road which goes into First Street. The First Street portion will include turning lanes off the Northeast Industrial Highway and an offset turning lane in the driveway at Norfolk Crush.

The Norfolk Crush project start date will be late this fall or early spring of 2024. The plant is scheduled to open in the summer of 2024.

The company will still build a level crossing through Nucor Road and Victory Road, Johnson said.

There are also bridges to be replaced east of Newman Grove, north of Tyson’s hog plant near Madison along with some pavement, and the Apple Orchard Bridge north of Norfolk on Eisenhower Avenue.

Other projects in the pipeline include 7 miles of Enola Road, which has already been tendered and is expected to be completed this summer; Battle Creek’s Producers Road; and various bridges around the county.

Two residents of the audience spoke. They included encouragement to ensure there are adequate turn lanes and length for Norfolk Crush to stack trucks for trucks entering there. The other concern was repairing a road listed in the future, which connects to Enola Road.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the one- and six-year road plan. They also asked Johnson to share improvement plans on First Street at the Norfolk Crush facility as they become available.

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