‘Road Closed’ signs mean just that, sheriff reminds motorists

If violations persist, $200 tickets will be issued

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Motorists leaving Minburn easterly on Country Road F31 see a Road Closed sign, but some disregard it. The Dallas County Sheriff will begin issuing $200 tickets to motorists who disobey traffic-control devices.

County Road F31 (195th Street) is closed between Minburn and County Road R22 until the fall. Access is restricted to motorists whose residence lies on F31.
County Road F31 (195th Street) is closed between Minburn and County Road R22 until the fall. Access is restricted to motorists whose residence lies on F31.

County Road F31 — the Minburn Road — from Minburn eastward to County Road R22 was closed May 23 for repaving, and it will not reopen to through traffic until September or October. Yet the number of motorists disregarding the “Road Closed” signs got so great Wednesday that the Dallas County Sheriff’s office began issuing warning tickets to the law-breaking drivers.

The intersection at R22 was “like a zoo” Wednesday afternoon, according to Dallas County Road Department Chief Inspector Robert Lehman, with motorists violating the closure signs willy-nilly.  Lehman requested assistance from the sheriff’s office.

Dallas County Deputy Sheriff Clay Leonard said he issued three warning citations within the first 10 minutes.

“This project will last into the fall,” Leonard said, “so the sooner motorists adapt their behavior to the minor inconvenience of a detour, the better. Motorists put themselves at risk by ignoring the closure signs, and they risk the safety of the construction workers. It also delays the project. The last thing they need to be doing is looking over their shoulder for traffic. It just slows them down.”

Motorists face a $200 ticket for disobeying a traffic-control device and if drivers persist in violating the law, the sheriff’s office will begin issuing tickets, said Dallas County Second Chief Deputy Lt. Adam Infante. Obedience to official traffic-control devices is covered by Chapter 321.256 of the Iowa Code.

“Most people in that area are not happy about the construction,” Infante said. “We wrote a bunch of warnings that day. We’re trying to get the point across without being obnoxious.”

Construction is expected to last about four months. Through traffic should follow the marked detour routes of U.S. Highway 169, Iowa Highway 44, and County Road R30. Access will be maintained for local traffic only, and Infante was at pains to explain what the phrase “local traffic” means.

Lt. Adam Infante
Lt. Adam Infante

“‘Local traffic’ means that you live on that stretch of road or there’s no other access to your house other than going that route, but if you can go another way, you should,” he said. “If somebody lives off of that road and they’re just using it for convenience rather than driving around, then that’s where the issue comes in. Deputy Leonard had a lot of people telling him, ‘This is the easiest way for me to go.’ His point is that it might be the easiest way, but you don’t live on this road, so you can go another way.”

Infante advised motorists to “stop going around those signs and save themselves 200 bucks.”

The six-mile, $4 million paving job is in the hands of Brooklyn, Iowa-based Manatts Inc. The construction company is expected to finish subdrain work on the project this week, according to sources at the Dallas County Road Department.

The next phase of the project will involve removing and crushing the existing Portland cement concrete (PCC) pavement.  Residents along F31 will face restricted access in one direction.

Manatts equipment is assembled in Minburn for the concrete-crushing phase of the $4 million repaving project.
Manatts equipment is assembled in Minburn for the concrete-crushing phase of the $4 million repaving project.

The intersection of F31 and R22 will also be closed for most of the project, according to the road department. Manatts crushing equipment is currently assembled on F31 near Minburn, which requires the road to be closed to all traffic at the west end of the project.

“In other words,” the road department’s online announcement said, “there is no access to Minburn from F31, and no access to F31 from Minburn. Residents along F31 will not be able to exit the project area through Minburn and will need to use alternate routes.”

Pavement removal is expected to start Monday in Minburn, and the area closed to all traffic will move easterly with the progress of the crushing operation.

For more information, call the Dallas County Road Department at 515-993-4289 or sign up for the department’s eNotifications.

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