North Iowa residents along S-56 from the Franklin County line to B-47 could have to adjust to one-lane traffic as soon as next week.

Tuesday morning, the Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a bid from Heartland Asphalt of Mason City to undertake a paving project.

According to County Engineer Brandon Billings, Heartland could start by next week if they really wanted to but they have contingencies in plan to begin as late as Aug. 12.

While the paving is underway, one lane will be open at all times for about a mile or two at a time as workers move through the project.

There's no specific end date in place but the plan, in total, calls for about 35 working days. So if Heartland started as late as possible, paving could be finished before the end of September.

One potential impediment to the project and to other recent roadwork in the area has been the semi-consistent rain.

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Billings estimated at the meeting that about 20% of roads in the county "hadn't dried out" which means that dust control on gravel roads can't happen. (Both Mason City and Rockwell districts are ready for dust control which should happen by the end of this week.)

"It's not drying out. We keep getting just enough rain and just enough traffic on them to keep them soft," Billings said.

As for cost for the S-56 to B-47 paving project, Heartland Asphalt had the lone bid and came in at $2.1 million (which was about $200,000 less than the initial estimate by officials). Billings surmised that the reason for the lone bid is that a local contractor can usually bid lower and make the same profit as a higher bidder because the local outfit's overhead is lower.

While the county waits to finalize the deal with Heartland Asphalt, it's also waiting on the start of the Kingbird Avenue paving off of 265th Street. Utilities still need to be moved in the area so workers can't break ground until next week.

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