County lets contract for Raccoon River driftwood removal

The Dallas County burn site on 180th Street west of M Avenue will be used to reduce Raccoon River driftwood to ashes.

The Dallas County Board of Supervisors accepted a bid Tuesday for $198,800 from a Mount Pleasant company to remove driftwood debris from seven bridges in the county.

Batey Ltd., which was awarded a similar contract in 2016 to removed debris from nine Dallas County bridges at a cost of $249,750, was one of two bidders for the latest project. A Tuscaloosa, Ala., company, Cabana Disaster Recovery, bid $776,000 for the job, making Batey the lower bidder.

The Dallas County Secondary Roads Department will administer the contract and supervise the work.

Because the log jams accumulated during a flood event, their removal qualifies for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The federal agency will cover 75 percent of the removal cost, and the state of Iowa will pick up 10 percent of the tab, leaving county taxpayers on the hook for 15 percent or about $30,000.

Federal and state dollars also funded the county’s 2016 debris removal project.

Batey Ltd. also secured a $124,750 contract in 2016 with the Dallas County Conservation Board for debris removal from two bridges on the Raccoon River Valley Trail (RRVT). This year the conservation board has three bridges clogged with log jams and will seek bids for their clearing in the next few weeks, according to Dallas County Conservation Board Director Mike Wallace.

Wallace said no project activity within the stream bed would occur between May 15 and July 31 in order to protect the endangered Topeka shiners during their peak spawning period. This year’s RRVT bridges are in Perry, Adel and across Panther Creek west of Adel.

Once the debris is removed by the contractors, it must be burned according to FEMA regulations. An 18-acre site along 180th Street west of M Avenue was used in 2016 and will be used again this year.

“There’s quite few hoops that you’ve got to jump through with FEMA,” said Dallas County Engineer Al Miller, “environmental stuff, so we have to haul the material there, burn it there, reduce it as much as possible and then haul the ashes and whatever remains to a landfill.”

Miller also secured the supervisors’ approval for ongoing use of the burn site, which lies north of the Dallas County Conservation Board’s Voas Nature Area. The site will be used when crews from the Secondary Roads Department clear smaller logjams in tributaries of the Raccoon River.

“I’d like to stay on top of the maintenance when we have debris getting hung up on our bridges,” Miller said. “I’d like to have a place to burn it that meets all the requirements, and the DNR’s approved it, and everybody’s happy with it. That way our guys are less likely to burn in a flood plain or use diesel fuel to start the fire and those kind of things  — in a stream where we shouldn’t be doing that. This will help us out in that area.”

Miller said the ashes are hauled to a recycling center near Earlham, where the county pays $100 to dispose of a tandem load of material.


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