The American Concrete Pavement Association has given the Iowa Department of Transportation a lifetime performance award for a section of Interstate 29 in Monona County. The award notes the fourteen-mile stretch of I-29 was first driven in 1961, and since then has needed only minimal repairs. D.O.T. District 3 Engineer Richard Michaelis of Sioux City credits good work from the bottom up.
He points to the sub-grade for the roadbed as well as the quality of the pavement they built back then. The lifetime of pavement also depends on how heavily it’s used, and he says car and truck traffic’s far heavier today than it was back when the highway was constructed. That section of I-29 carries about 13,000 vehicles a day, about four times what was projected when it was built. Michaelis says they are starting to look at a possible rebuild of that area, but that is a ways down the road.
The time’s probably coming when it will need some work, but the engineer says the roadway still has some available "service life." Michaelis says it’s not often they see a construction project hold up that well for that long. A combination of many things has them saying, "We’d like to replicate that if we could." The original ten-inch-thick concrete highway was built by a Keokuk contractor more than 45 years ago.