Road Department Junction 92 Development
Road Department Junction 92 Development
Recently, the Marion County Board of Supervisors approved formal action to partially fund the development of the Road Department’s Junction 92 Facility. This development would ultimately consolidate the Pella, Clay Township, and Central Shop & Office (Knoxville) into the new facilities at Junction 92. This press release details the project and the proposed improvements.
Over the last two decades, the Marion County Road Department has been planning long term facilities improvements, preparing for facilities consolidation, and considering various possibilities to better situate Marion County for future road maintenance demands and the potential for consolidation of county road departments. The result of the early 2000’s search for land was the purchase of a 20-acre parcel at the junction of Old Hwy 92 and New Hwy 92 in 2007. Upon securing the land, preliminary plans were developed, a cold storage building was built in 2007, followed by a salt/sand shed in 2008 which doubled the countywide materials storage capacity for winter operations.
In 2011, the Road Department’s Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) program applied for and received a grant to construct a building to house IRVM related equipment for seeding, spraying, and brush mowing. In 2016, the cold storage building was converted to warm storage when the department reorganized and began running three plow trucks and a motor grader out of the Junction 92 Shop to better situate them geographically within their snow route.
Following the closure and ultimate sale of the County Home/Farm an addition was constructed on the IRVM building in 2020 to offset a portion of the cold storage the department had been utilizing for winter storage at the County Farm. During 2020 a formal development plan was presented to the Board of Supervisors with the full build out proposed for the Junction 92 site. No formal action was taken to fund the project at this time, but the direction and intent was defined. With a plan established, the Road Department completed rough grading of the site and construction of two storm water detention basins in accordance with the County’s ordinance.
Funding & Development Plan:
The formal development plan presented in 2020 was revised in 2022 and was still on the originally proposed timeline of construction in calendar year 2024 & 2025, however, inflation had driven the cost of the project up nearly 40%. As a result, funding with strictly cash was no longer an option and other mechanisms were evaluated for viability. Ultimately, three funding options were presented to the Board of Supervisors on September 27th, 2022.
The first option was to fund completely with cash at the new total project cost of $8.5 million. This option would leave the Secondary Road Fund and the County General Fund at uncomfortably low levels, even tapping other cash balances from available sources. Therefore, additional options were considered, such as bonding and a combination of bonding along with cash. The only type of bonding considered was a Revenue Bond from Local Option Service and Sales Tax (LOSST). LOSST was renewed in 2021 for Marion County and other cities with no sunset, with Pella renewing in 2022 with a 20-year sunset. Therefore, the Revenue Bond from LOSST would not create a new tax, nor impact property taxes, but would utilize revenue that was already planned to be collected/used for essential county purposes. Completely funding the project with a bond was the second option, utilizing the majority of the currently collected revenue from LOSST and constraining the allowable use of LOSST for other projects in the future. The Road Department proposed a third option of combining a cash down payment in the amount of $5 million with the remaining $3.5 million to be funded from a LOSST Revenue Bond.
Ultimately, the Board of Supervisors choose to fund the project with the third option. The cash outlay was approved at the October 11, 2022 Board of Supervisor meeting with $1.5 million from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, $1.5 million from the current LOSST balance, $1.0 million from the Secondary Road Fund, and $1.0 million from the General Fund which would include the cash flow from the sale of the existing Road Department facilities. The remaining budget would be funded by a proposed LOSST Revenue bond in the amount of $3.5 million.
The bond would not increase property tax, nor would it extend any debt burden on property taxes. The revenue bond payment would utilize future LOSST revenue from the adopted sales tax at roughly 39% of discretionary revenue assuming zero growth. Additionally, a similar debt payment currently made from LOSST for the Law Enforcement Center (LEC) is set to expire in June 2024, therefore resulting in essentially a net zero discretionary revenue change in 2025 when the first new bond payment would be due. The Road Department LOSST Revenue Bond simply would take over the LEC payment from LOSST, allow the current “project” funds in LOSST (Fund 29) to remain, would not increase property taxes, would not impose any new taxes, and would accomplish the project on the initial timeline.
As previously stated, the project to develop Junction 92 would include consolidation of three Road Department Facilities into one location. The Pella and Clay township locations would be sold with their revenues funneling through the General Fund as part of $1.0 million allocation. The Central Shop and Engineer’s Office in Knoxville are leased from the Marion County Conservation Board who would retain ownership upon the Road Department vacating the premises.
New construction at Junction 92 would include a cold storage building, two new salt sheds, repurposing of the existing salt shed for additional cold storage, construction of a new Engineer’s Office, and a new mechanic/maintenance crew shop. The development would all take place on the rough graded property currently owned by Marion County with minor final grading to be completed upon final building construction.
The new salt sheds would have slightly more capacity than the existing structures. Cold storage would get all backup snow equipment and major excavation equipment under roof in the winter season. Conversely, in the off-season snow equipment could be stored out of the sun and weather to protect paint, fittings, hoses, etc.
The new Engineer’s Office would have secure access for the public with ADA accessibility and a public access location for filing and completing permits. Square footage would be comparable to the existing office with ground floor access to file, equipment, and supply storage. Additionally, the office would provide adequate space for staff and pre-construction meetings, an engineering testing laboratory, dedicated office space with separate common areas for collaboration.
The Main Shop building would house the crews and their equipment from the Pella, Clay and current Jct. 92 shops in addition to the Mechanics, Crew Supervisors, Roadside Vegetation Manager, and Sign Technician. The new shop would offer roughly 5,000 more square feet of heated storage so that all primary snow removal equipment could be inside during winter operations. Additionally, the mechanic bays would include an overhead crane and vehicle hoist for servicing and maintaining equipment in a safe and efficient manner. Importantly, a heated wash bay for preserving the integrity of the equipment was included, as well as a training room large enough to accommodate our entire staff.
This facility will serve the residents of Marion County long into the future and will be an adequate space for providing safety trainings, maintaining and preserving equipment, and ensuring that the Road Department can provide a high quality of service to the residents and travelers of Marion County for years to come.
Tyler Christian, P.E.
Marion County Engineer