Committee looks at options for Rib Lake highway shop
Members of Taylor County’s highway committee are weighing the options in regard to building a proposed $1.3 million shop to replace the existing Rib Lake shop as they look at the proposed design and location options.
Committee members on Tuesday afternoon reviewed plans for the 60 foot by 120 foot shop building. As designed, the pre-engineered steel structure would be built with 20-foot sidewalls and would be insulated to R30. The plans call for a total of 12 bays with half of them on the heated half of the building and the remainder on the unheated cold storage section. A load bearing wall will separate the two sides of the building along the center peak.
According to Highway Commissioner Ben Stanfley, the cold storage area would be used to store seasonally used equipment, this would free up space at the Medford highway shop facility. The building also includes a small break room and office area with restrooms.
Stanfley estimated the building is about twice as big as the current highway shop in Rib Lake. The existing structure has been decaying for years and is undersized for its use. The decision was made last winter to move forward with its replacement and at the same time address storage needs for the department.
Stanfley suggested that with the county’s acquisition of the Bauer property adjacent to the Medford highway shop campus, it may make sense to split the shop and build the cold storage facility in Medford. This idea was shot down by committee chairman Scott Midlbrand because he felt that it would end up costing more to build two smaller buildings than one larger one. The project engineer with CBS Squared of Chippewa Falls agreed saying that one building would be easier to build and maintain in the long run.
He recommended the county hold off until after the election and bid out the project in January or February of 2021. There is currently volatility in the construction material market, he said that while steel prices haven’t gone up as much as lumber there is uncertainty.
As presented, the estimated cost of the building is about $50,000 higher than what it was projected at last year largely due to the increase in material costs. While deciding to take a month to review the proposed plans before approving them, the bigger concern for committee members was where it would be built.
The current shop is located on CTH D in the village of Rib Lake, just north of the Great Northern Cabinetry plant. Stanfley is working with the state Department of Transportation on options in and around the region with the hope to improve efficiencies with snow plowing routes. He presented committee members with a map showing site options at Hwy 13 and CTH D in Westboro, by Hwy 102 and Hwy 13, north of the existing shop on CTH D and east of the village on Hwy 102. In addition, they considered a proposed site on county-owned land near the Hwy 13 wayside.
Of these options, Stanfley said the Hwy 13 and CTH D site seemed to have the most savings for the county with gained efficiencies in mileage, staff time and the amount of time plows were down on the roads. However, it was met with opposition from committee members who felt it would decrease service to heavily traveled routes in the village and on Hwy 102. They also raised concern about the need to install a well and holding tanks along with losing access to natural gas service by moving outside the village.
“I would be dead against moving out of the Rib Lake area,” said member Jim Gebauer.
Committee member Ray Soper echoed those concerns and noted that access to natural gas over having to use LP would be a substantial savings to the county that could easily outweigh efficiencies in the plowing routes.
“I don’t think efficiencies of plow routes will be the end all and be all if we are choosing one site over another,” Soper said.
Gebauer said he talked to an older highway employee who noted that the Westboro location had been looked at in the past, but had been rejected in favor of the location in the village. “I can’t see moving, it is the best location,” Gebauer said.
Committee members took no formal action, but will review the proposal and wait until the September meeting to make a decision on a location and building plan to send to the full county board later this fall.
Committee members took a second look at a bridge aid request for Fawn Ave. in the town of Westboro. County highway department policy is that culverts over 48 inches in diameter must be made of steel rather than plastic. When the town of Westboro replaced the culvert on Fawn Ave. it did so with a plastic culvert in violation of the policy. As a result, the town could have been denied the 50% of the costs paid by the county under the county bridge aid program.
Stanfley said the town chairman explained that the culvert had been purchased last year in anticipation of the project and to save shipping costs by having a full load of culverts delivered for multiple years worth of work.
“I will be sending out a letter to let towns know they should have the bridge aid approved before purchasing things,” Stanfley said.
Soper said he wanted it clear for the future, but could not see punishing the town of Westboro. The plastic culvert is actually less expensive, saving the county about $800 in their half of the overall cost.
Committee member Rod Adams said it needs to be clear that all culverts over 48 inches in the future need to be steel so that they do not have to revisit it again.
Committee members approved the $6,270 in bridge aid for the Fawn Ave. culverts.
Committee members also approved two culvert projects in the town of Little Black on Stetson Ave. The first is a “squashed” 54 inch by 36 foot culvert that will be replaced with a 54 inch by 40 foot culvert with the county share at $3,535. The second culvert is replacing two 72 inch by 42 feet culverts with a 102 inch by 56 foot culvert with the county paying $10,447.
Committee members also approved paying $47,700 for the county portion of a the replacement cost of the Hetland Bridge in the town of Goodrich. The bridge is shared by the towns of Goodrich and Greenwood and the town portion of the cost of it will be divided between those two municipalities. The total cost of the bridge replacement is $475,000 but it falls under the state bridge aid program which puts the local portion at 20% of the overall project.
In other business, committee members:
_ Approved a proposed department budget with the 2% decrease in operations as mandated by the county finance committee. This will drop the department’s budget from $2,675,000 this year to $2,631,100 next year. Included in that budget is $1,750,000 in borrowing for planned projects on CTH O and CTH A. In related actions, members approved the equipment schedule calling for $754,600 in vehicle and equipment purchases. This is generated from revenue the county receives for road painting and other work done for the state and other governments. Mildbrand had suggested the option of using some of this money to help offset the highway department budget. Finance director Larry Brandl was opposed to this idea expressing concern that it would end up costing the county more in the long run to keep equipment running beyond the point at which it had any value. “We got into a backward cycle,” Brandl said of the last time the county had tried to do this.
Mildbrand noted other departments are cutting back on purchases including the sheriff’s department not purchasing two squad cars.
Committee member Earl Hinkel disagreed and compared it to waiting on the shop building costing the county another $50,000 in material costs. “Waiting a year will just not save us money,” he said.
Approved, over Mildbrand’s objection, allowing Stanfley to spend about $290,000 from next year’s equipment outlay to purchase the equipment needed for the patrol trucks that will be put into service next year. There will be no actual exchange of money until the items are delivered early next year, but because there is such a delay in materials waiting until January to place the orders would push it until late in the year before the trucks would be ready for service. Mildbrand opposed the action citing the need to give the finance committee as much flexibility as possible in hammering out a budget.
_ Received word from Adams that he asked not to receive a per diem for the last highway committee meeting. Adams had attended the meeting remotely, but said that while he could hear the committee members, they could not hear him. Since he was unable to participate he did not feel that he should be paid for attending the meeting.
_ Received an update on road projects, the chip sealing on Hwy 64/73 is being completed with the road sweeping and painting to take place in the coming week. A reconstruction meeting is being held on Wednesday for the Hay Creek bridge replacement near Jump River. Construction is set to begin next week and the bridge will be out for about a month.