DOT Wants Funds Secured For Highway 63 Study

Mahaska County Engineer Jerry Nusbaum discusses the Highway 63 project with the Mahaska County Supervisors Monday.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Highway 63 project had seemed to be on the fast track, but a few bumps in the road presented themselves recently.

Beth Danowsky, Chair of the ECITC (East Central Iowa Transportation Coalition), along with Mahaska County Engineer Jerry Nusbaum is who represents Mahaska County. Mahaska County is the lead agency in the effort to update Highway 63 from Oskaloosa to Waterloo.

The Iowa Department of Transportation Commission recently voted to designate 97 miles of US 63 from Oskaloosa to Waterloo as part of the Iowa Commercial Industrial Network.

The Iowa Commercial Industrial Network (CIN) exists to connect economic growth areas and carry a significant amount of the state’s commercial traffic.

In addition to seeking CIN designation, the ECITC is studying US 63 to determine what improvements can be made to better support business retention and growth in the area between Oskaloosa and Malcom.

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 is there are historians and archeological folks out in that area defining places that might have sensitivity,” Danowsky explained, saying in a September 4th supervisor meeting that there could be places that are architecturally and or historically significant .

Also in that September 4th meeting, Danowsky also reported on a letter from the IDOT where they were asking about the status of the groups NEPA study. “Asking to have a little bit more detailed information on the feasibility studies we’ve completed,” Danowsky said. She also stated that the group has been reporting to the DOT Commission all along.

Danowsky once again brought up the issue that had surfaced in the September 4 meeting where DOT is asking to have the whole $500,000 of the study secured.

The group has over half of the money currently secured, but $214,777 remains unsecured. Danowsky said that they are now approaching the government and business partners to finish securing the remaining amount.

Recently, an email arrived to Nusbaum from Jason Huddle, who is the transportation planner for our district. “We propose an environmental assessment and as DOT’s been talking about our project they believe, in talking with federal highway, that this should be an environment impact study.”

Danowsky said DOT estimates the cost of that study to be quite a bit higher, in the range of 1.5 to 5 million dollars, “depending on how that’s defined.”

“So here’s where we are with this,” Danowsky said. “Snyder and Associates, who’s doing our study, continues to say they don’t believe that it will cost nearly 1.5 to 5 million dollars. There are 3 or 4 different ways we can approach this,” Danowsky said. She also indicated they are attempting to set up some meetings with DOT to talk about how to structure the study.

Supplementing that amount will come before the Supervisor in a later meeting, as well as the Oskaloosa City Council.

The Oskaloosa City Council approved a professional services contract with Snyder and Associates for work on the transportation study. Costs not to exceed $21,000. The Mahaska County Board of Supervisors will take that same contract up at their next meeting.



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