US 63 Project Clears Hurdles, Faces More

The Mahaska County Supervisors for September 4, 2012.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The progress of the US 63 project was the main focus of Tuesdays Mahaska County Board of Supervisors meeting.

The meeting was postponed from Monday until Tuesday in observance of Labor Day.

After quick approval of the agenda and minutes, and paying the bills, supervisors moved on to approving the route for this years CROP Walk that will take place on October 14th.

The supervisors voted down amendment 5 to the health insurance plan with the advice from Brad Reiman of Bearence Management Group to not move forward with the amendment.

Also approved was the 28E agreements with the cities of Beacon and University Park. Each pays the county $3,400 a year for law enforcement services provided by the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Department.

As previously reported, the stretch of Highway 63 from Oskaloosa to Waterloo was recently brought on to CIN (Commercial Industrial Network) by the DOT commission.

“There was not a process, the DOT has never amended that,” said Beth Danowsky, believing that the process went very smoothly.

Snyder and Associates put together a report and Danowsky highlighted a few significant items that are going along with the US 63 study in that report. It included discussion on how to structure the NEPA study. Danowsky said the concept statement has been submitted to DOT for approval.

Archeological and historical assessments have begun in the areas defined to be in the study area for possible routes of 63. “Oskaloosa to Malcom is the area that DOT has asked us to define as the study. So, right now what’s happening there are historians and archeological folks out in that area defining places that might have sensitivity,” Danowsky explained, saying there could be places that are architecturally and or historically significant.

Danowsky also said that DOT is requiring that the 63 coalition do the more expansive study, which is the environmental impact statement and is now a part of the scope of the NEPA study.

The next step in the process will be making sure the project is in the DOT’s 5 year plan. “Once the NEPA study is complete, within the next two years, this will go to DOT for design phase,” Danowsky said. “That’s very significant to DOT because the design phase is typically paid for 100% by DOT. In their world, it needs to get in their 5 year plan.” Currently, the project is not in the extended 5 year plan.

One area that DOT is looking at is that the group has all the funds for their end of the project. Currently the project costs of $500,000 are being paid for by local governments and others. Oskaloosa and the county have each agreed to pay $130,000 of that cost. Other communities and area development groups have added funds as well, with a total of $325,000 committed so far, but the DOT wants to make sure the total amount is secured to help the project land within the DOT’s 5 year plan.

Also set was the public hearing for street and alley vacation in Taintor for October 1, 2012 at 10:00 am.

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