County looks to build new maintenance facility

If plans continue forward, Keokuk County Highway Department could have a new maintenance facility.

Sigourney, Iowa- Like many similar secondary roads departments in rural Iowa, the Keokuk County Highway Department has been through a lot as the costs of maintaining roads skyrockets, but funding to fix those roads remains relatively constant. One important part of a highway department is the facility that they operate out of. Some counties, such as Mahaska County or Buchanan County, are blessed to have virtually all of their main operation under the same roof. However, others are not quite that lucky.

The Keokuk County Highway Department currently has part of their operation out of a maintenance facility, which is located at 321 West Spring Street, in Sigourney. In addition, engineering staff, including County Engineer Andy McGuire, work out of the courthouse, while some other supplies are stored at a location called the “East Yards”. The current county maintenance facility is an aging facility that requires numerous updates, simply to meet state and federal mandates. A study done in the early 2000s found upgrades to the facility to be very costly, perhaps more than building a new facility. Keokuk County Engineer Andy McGuire said those findings are the driving force in a current plan to build a new maintenance facility.

“The study came back and basically said that it was really tough to put numbers to what it would take to make that facility compliant with code today. So, the most viable option was a new facility, to start over if you will,” McGuire said.

The County is currently planning on building a new facility at 1301 E Jackson Street in Sigourney. The land has been owned by the county for some time now, and due to the sale of several properties adjacent, the county has been able to expand the amount of land there to work with. Over the past few years, the county has also leveled out land, and installed a new sewer line, in preparation for a potential maintenance facility.

“In the last seven years, we’ve made progress on preparing the site, taking steps towards this, with the idea that it ever didn’t go, the improvements we were making were going to prove adventitious to the site anyway,” McGuire said.

For more on this story, catch the September 26 edition of the News-Review.