County to open bids on road project

The section of road just outside the main entrance to CERAland will be widened this year.

But no improvement to County Road 525E will take place southwest of the park, just north of State Road 7, county highway Engineer Danny Hollander said.

Bids on widening County Road 525E, between State Road 46 and County Road 300S, will be opened on Aug. 22, Hollander said. Contractors who will bid on the project are only being asked to complete the work before the end of this year, the highway engineer said.

The project is being supported by CERAland, which has donated the right of way required for widening the road. The private park is popular with patrons who own campers and motor homes. But Hollander says one oversized recreational vehicle on Road 525E will occasionally scrape another coming in the opposite direction. At times, the result has been broken mirrors and other damage, Hollander said.

While the two sharp curves south of have long been a traffic concern, fixing that problem will be more costly and complicated than the current project, the county highway engineer said.

Instead of having land donated, the county would have to buy right-of-way south of County Road 300S, he said. In addition, the cost of moving infrastructure such as utility lines would also be prohibitively expensive this year, Hollander added.

Inflation has forced the county highway department to stretch their highway dollars as much as possible. That includes handling some road projects with their own crews where practical.

But the cost of the project west of CERAland is just high enough that the county commissioners feel it would be best that the work be handled by contractors, they said.

When bids were opened last May for Phase II of the Community Crossing Matching grant, the cost for a new blacktop rose to $140,000 per mile, compared to $79,018 per mile in 2021, Hollander said.

The rising prices doesn’t prevent the county from being obliged to do every project they submitted before the prices shot up, he said. That’s why the county highway department is being exceptionally frugal this year, he said.