Supervisors look at ways to make intersections safer

VINTON – The lights and proposed rumble strips and Highway 30 and 21st Ave. were on agenda again for the Benton County Board of Supervisors. The board showed support for legislation that would require rumble strips at intersections between blacktopped county roads and state or federal highways, in reaction to a fatal accident last year.

The meeting was Tuesday, March 3, at the courthouse in Vinton.

Gary Bierschenk, supervisor, reported that the lights at the intersection are rarely on, since a car reportedly has to be going 40 miles per hour to activate. Bierschenk also presented a letter from the Iowa Department of Transportation regarding traffic safety, focusing on rumble strips. It states strips are generally not used where the sound could be “obtrusive” to nearby residents or businesses. Alternate measures may be taken, such as flags, beacons and larger signs.

After the board read the letter, Bierschenk felt there was a better way to deal with the intersection than rumble strips.

They also read a letter from residents who live near the proposed location of the rumble strips.

Bierschenk said he’d like the county do whatever it took to keep the people happy and the intersection safe. This could be done by putting up blinking lights on both sides of the intersection, as well as on the stop ahead sign. Rumble strips could be on the south side of Highway 30. North side rumble strips would be a pain for the people who live next to the road, Bierschenk said. He also wanted to see “stop ahead” signs there.

Bierschenk would like to see the county take these other measures, without disturbing the nearby residence, and if that doesn’t work, then maybe put in rumble strips. “I think it makes sense,” Bierschenk said.

Auditor Hayley Rippel added she is keeping up on the legislation regarding this. Primmer pointed out that anything the state decides would supersede what they do as a county.

Bierschenk said there are a lot of places that would require rumble strips, adding, “If you’re going to put in rumble strips, people are going to be disturbed.”

Primmer replied, “Very true.” But he’d hate to do something and have someone injured or killed. He reminded the board that two out of three of them recommended rumble strips. Bierschenk at that time voted with Primmer for the rumble strips. Supervisor Tracy Seeman was opposed.

No action was taken, since it was a discussion item. They hope to bring it up again on March 10 with the county engineer. Primmer also wanted someone from the Iowa DOT to attend.

Transportation Building

Seeman went through the bids for the proposed new transportation building. He said he has been serving as the general contractor, which he said was a way to save money for the taxpayers. There was discussion on various doors, number of windows, framing, insulation, sheetrock and steel. There was a question on one of the contractors being able to correct their bid, while being fair to the other contractor. They also went over how the work was advertised and the definition of a sealed bid. Bids also came in late on insulation and electrical work. It was recommended by Benton County Attorney David Thompson that electrical and insulation work be re-advertised. He also outlined ramifications of having a supervisor or the supervisors serving as a general contractor. There is a meeting planned in late March with Heartland Insurance to see if a supervisor can be general contractor. Primmer said the other option is to throw it all out and hire a general contractor.

Seeman said he felt there were two people in that room that were not on board with what he is trying to do to save money. Primmer answered he was on board. “I think it’s great that you’re doing this. I’m just concerned.” Primmer pointed out Seeman does this for a living and he “wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole.”

Seeman asked if they could find someone interested in taking it over, such as former county engineer Gerald Petermeier. Seeman said he’d be willing to help. Thompson asked if Petermeier’s compensation was something that had to be bid. They plan to meet with Petermeier soon.

Other business

A land use hearing was set for Tuesday, March 31, at 9:15 a.m. for Jeffrey and Amy Herbert, for land in Section 28, Leroy Township.

Gary Benson was approved as a part-time employee in the auditor’s office. He will help with elections.

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