Ash Avenue slated for sidewalk upgrade
Jefferson County is responsible for Ash Avenue, even as it runs through Batavia as Fourth Street, because the town’s population is under 500 people.
In February, Batavia Mayor Randy Major asked the supervisors and county engineer about repairs for this Farm-to-Market road.
Major had said it was almost impossible to have two-way traffic on the road and a lot of people have asked him about it and asked when it can get repaired.
“The pavement is deteriorated and even the curbing is beginning to disappear,” Major told the supervisors in February. “Traffic has to drive down the center of the road.”
Jefferson County Engineer Scott Cline had told Major that Ash Avenue was in his five-year plan of repairs, but not on schedule for the summer’s construction season.
“Ash Avenue is on our five-year program, but we can’t just go out and do it. We are aware of it, and I’ve looked at it,” Cline had said. “Something will have to be done with its sidewalks, too.”
Monday, the board of supervisors considered a resolution to approve a contract with French-Reneker Associates Inc. for intersection sidewalk design services on Ash Avenue in Batavia.
“When we do the project, the sidewalks will have to be Americans with Disabilities Act accessible,” said Cline. “We won’t have to replace all the sidewalks, but we’ll just have to make sure the parts we’re working on are ADA compliant.”
That means the intersections have to have sidewalk curb cuts for wheelchair traffic and truncated domes inlaid, or the small, raised bumps, to enable sight-challenged pedestrians to be aware an intersection or crosswalk is at hand.
“We’ll get the road updated and take care of the sidewalk,” said supervisor Dick Reed.
Cline said just some of the sidewalk corners will be the county’s responsibility.
“I’ve met with Iowa Department of Transportation and examined where crossings are necessary,” said Cline. “We’ve come up with a plan that meets ADA compliance.”
He said the design services with French-Reneker would cost $7,500.
Tracy Vance, executive director of Fairfield Economic Development Association, said he has concerns with spending money for ADA accessible corners or intersections and not having the rest of a sidewalk.
“We want to provide services, but if this project is not connected to anything, or the sidewalk doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Cline said the county doesn’t have to build all the sidewalks, but has to have a plan.
Fairfield City Manager Kevin Flanagan said the whole project was most likely a matter of phasing. He said there could be a plan over a period of years to get all the sidewalks on Ash Avenue replaced or built.
“There probably is a transition plan for sidewalks before the project begins,” said Cline. “My part is getting the ADA compliant intersections and crossings.”
The supervisors approved the contract with French-Reneker for design services. The project is scheduled for the 2015 construction season.
Supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt, the county’s representative on the Alcohol Consumption Task Force, reported Iowa Rep. Curt Hanson is interested in bringing a 24-hour program to Jefferson County.
Dimmitt, Don Sander, executive director of the task force, Sheriff Gregg Morton, Bill Nickelson and Hanson met and discussed the program.
“Instead of revoking driver’s licenses for [drunk driving] repeat offenders, this program requires a person to come in to the sheriff’s office twice a day to be breath-tested,” said Dimmitt. “If the person tests positive, they go to jail. People taking the test have to pay a fee for each test.”
Dimmitt said using such a test requires Legislative action.
“It’s had positive feedback elsewhere,” said Dimmitt. “Curt is interested and has met with Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. We’d have to get judges on board, to have them make it a part of probation.”
Reed reported that county assessor Sheri Blough’s presentation about new commercial property tax credits was a good presentation.
“Business property owners have to sign up by application by Jan. 15 to be eligible for a credit,” said Reed. “County supervisors have to approve the applications.
“We have a potential of 1,400 applications. We’ll need to have some criteria to base approvals on. It was news to me we’d be involved,” he said.