5. CF Industries construction nears peak workforce

Construction of an expansion at CF Industries' complex south of Sioux City, at rear, is shown in this June 20, 2014, aerial photo.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | The Woodbury County Board on Tuesday went against a recommendation from the county engineer and approved borrowing up to $927,000 to construct a one-mile road near Port Neal for construction traffic.

The board voted 4-1 to use bonds and extend 240th Street between Allison and Andrew avenues. Trucks for months have been using nearby gravel roads to access the CF Industries nitrogen fertilizer plant in Port Neal, where the company is spending $1.7 billion to expand the facility. Work is scheduled to finish in mid-2016.

Neighbors have complained about noise and dust from traffic. CF officials requested the new roadway to provide a secondary route. 

The board on Tuesday voted to use General Obligation Essential Purpose Bonds to pay for the road. The amount to be borrowed will be determined when bids are received in August. No public referendum is required.

County Board member David Tripp, of Sioux City, on Tuesday said the expense is too much for a road that won’t be used much after construction finishes. He cast the only no vote.

"It is a very limited use (road) and I don't think taxpayers should pay for a road that will only be used for 15 to 18 months," Tripp said.

Separately, the county is planning a $3.8 million one-mile paved road, called CF Drive, to lead to the construction site. The state is covering $3 million of the cost. Work on that road is scheduled to finish in 2015.

County Board Chairman George Boykin, of Sioux City, said the new route will be used by residents as well.

"It is going to be a good investment for the county and the people down there,” he said.

CF is donating 6 acres for the roadway but will not contribute to construction costs.

Plant manager Nick DeRoos said the extension “assures a second dedicated route, almost the entire way to the plant. It provides a more robust truck route."

The board vote Tuesday was in opposition to County Engineer Mark Nahra. He previously raised concerns about funding being diverted from other road projects, before the board decided to borrow the money. County officials have said no funding is available for the 240th Street project in the current or next-year budget. 

Nahra also is concerned about the new road having limited use after the CF construction finishes.

"I am not recommending this project as a transportation necessity," Nahra said.

The new debt will likely be paid back over five years. Woodbury County currently has $3.3 million in outstanding debt.

DeRoos said the county's coffers will multiply from taxes paid as part of the overall expansion. It is projected to create 100 permanent jobs and 7,000 indirect jobs.

He said the county already is getting local option sales taxes paid by businesses working on the expansion. The county also will receive tens of millions in property taxes over many years as CF ramps up payments associated with having a higher assessed plant value.

The road is expected to open by November.

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County and education reporter

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