Rice County Highway Engineer Dennis Luebbe told County Commissioners working as a Committee of the Whole today final payment for the highway building addition and renovation will be requested at their next meeting.

Luebbe speculated it took about 18 months to get to this point saying, "Right now we just have some ticky tack mechanical things to be fixed but the final payment will be recommended.  The final project came in under our contract award price by $17,000 I think, so it didn't go over budget, we're happy with that and it's a beautiful facility."

"We're now open to the public. We haven't really talked about if we should have some sort of open house event.  We can talk about that w the transportation committee."

Luebbe touched on a few other topics.  He said they received a letter from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) confirming Rice County is receiving a half million dollars to study the possibility of a I-35 interchange at County Road 9 on the north end of Faribault.

He stated, "I've been working on scheduling a meeting with perhaps Senator Jasinski the district engineer (MnDOT) out of Rochester and maybe their planning staff in talking about a meeting to get together and talk about next step.  How quickly we can translate the funding bill into actively getting a study underway to evaluate the new interchange."

Luebbe gave Commissioners an update on the County Road 6 project saying, "It'll be nice to replace all of that pavement.  It served it's life very well but it's time has come so that's like a eight and a half mile project.  That will probably be a solid month of working days to get eight and a half miles put back together."

He added, "Down in Richland Township we are closing in on the grading and approach grading on those two bridges on County Road 80 commissioners.  That  contract is supposed to be finished by the end of the month.  I think it will be close but there are no oustanding issues other than just timing of subcontractors getting them there."

Commissioner Jim Purfeerst asked Luebbe about ditch mowing plans commending Bridgewater and Northfield Townships for doint their own mowing.

Luebbe told the County Board of Commissioners resources used for mowing could be better utilized elsewhere saying, "Routinely I would say we have eight mowers out with eight men. In the budget you notice every single year we buy mowing units or mowing tractors.  Every year we rent fifty thousand dollars worth of tractors because we don't want to buy those large tractors."

"So we have rental costs, we have new equipment, mowers, considerable equipment costs and staffing time to try to mow 400 plus miles, more or less of roadside."

Luebbe suggested there are areas in the county that they could let the grass grow saving on those resources.  He says they have sprayed in some areas to eliminate the weeds and parsnip.

This is kind of interesting to know.

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