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MOVILLE, Iowa -- The Woodbury County Board of Supervisors will soon consider a proposal to redirect money from a rural bridge project just north of Moville to instead modernize infrastructure on the town's southside frontage road.

Moville Mayor Jim Fisher at one point advocated for Woodbury County to pay $700,000 for the Haskell Avenue bridge. Now, he and other city officials are saying the money is better directed to boost infrastructure on the Moville frontage road.

A meeting of county and Moville officials took place Friday to discuss how to fund any upcoming redevelopment of the frontage road, along which a business rebirth has begun. The meeting included county supervisors Rocky De Witt and Keith Radig, County Engineer Mark Nahra, Moville Councilman Nate Bauer and Moville City Attorney Chad Thompson.

During the Tuesday county board meeting, Radig said the discussion last week involved negotiations of "some potential bridge changes."

Radig said no decisions have been made, and he'll bring a more full proposal to the Dec. 18 supervisors meeting. Radig said the proposal will likely involve the county and city of Moville sharing costs for the road redevelopment, which Nahra said ideally would be "50-50" so the county doesn't pay too much from the budget of the Secondary Roads Department he manages.

Nahra said he sees any county funding to the frontage project as less than half the cost of the Haskell bridge, which is on a timeline for a bid-letting in summer 2019.

Radig said "my reading of the room" Friday was that Moville officials weren't definitively set on whether they want to delay the bridge for another year or to nix the repair completely. That decision would have to be made by the county supervisors, and Moville officials are expected to have a full plan to the supervisors by January, Nahra said.

The Haskell Avenue bridge took hits in two severe water events from McElhany Creek between 2014 and 2017. The structure has been removed and the bridge area is barricaded.

Many Moville residents used Haskell Avenue as the quicker way to reach County Road K64 to the north than going via Iowa Highway 140. Those three roads essentially form a triangle, with Haskell as the shorter option than Highway 140. Nahra said closing Haskell would mean a drive of one-half mile longer, something that might cost drivers a minute of time.

Some rural Moville people cited the necessity of replacing the bridge, in part to lessen usage of a nearby intersection some people called unsafe. That is an intersection where a total of one collision has occurred over the last 17 years, Journal research shows, of the spot where K-64 meets Highway 140.

County officials juggled projects in order to repair the Haskell bridge in 2018, which resulted in seven bridge projects in rural Woodbury County being delayed by one year each. Now, the Haskell project could be delayed.

Moville officials want to promote economic development options along the frontage road, which runs parallel with U.S. Highway 20.

The city of Moville for the last few months has looked into creating a new urban renewal district near the frontage road.

The proposal says the city "expects to make numerous infrastructure improvements to Frontage Road between Second Street and Fair Street from 2018 to 2025." Those costs, capped at $2 million, would include street paving, replacing the sanitary sewer system and other work "to support additional commercial traffic in the area and make the area an attractive location for businesses to locate and operate."

The frontage road is actually a permutation of the original routing of Highway 20, before it was subsequently relocated just to the south. It had many businesses decades ago, before most died out. However, a rebirth is taking place on the frontage road, as Moville transitions from its traditional business district in the two blocks of downtown.

Since July 2016, a Lewis Drug pharmacy, Dollar General store, Movillatte coffee shop and Nicklas D. Jensen Funeral Home and Monument Company have opened on the frontage road. The city's only grocery store also was located along the road before closing on March 1.

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County and education reporter

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