Grundy Road opens for business

Long-discussed paving project finally comes to fruition

County representatives from both Black Hawk (left) and Grundy (right) pictured mere moments before cutting the ribbon and officially opening the newly-paved Grundy Road to traffic on Sept. 7. Those cutting the ribbon from Grundy Co. include (l-r) former Grundy Co. Supervisors Chuck Bakker and Harlan Riekena; current county supervisors Mark Schildroth, Heidi Nederhoff, and Lucas Halverson; and Grundy Co. Engineer Gary Mauer. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

A five-mile section of the heavily-traversed, formerly gravel Grundy Road located northwest of Hudson along the Grundy-Black Hawk county line officially opened to traffic last Thursday, Sept. 7 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony decades in the making.

The new pavement now runs from south of US 20 to Zaneta Road/D35.

The $7.3 million project – a joint venture between Grundy and Black Hawk counties – was nearly 50 years in the making, according to Grundy Co. Supervisor Mark Schildroth who spoke during the brief ceremony held on the front lawn of Zion Lutheran Church located along the now-paved road.

Both Grundy & Black Hawk county engineers Gary Mauer and Catherine Nicholas, respectively, and Zion’s congregation president Ed Juhl also spoke to the gathered group of about 30 which included contractors, county representatives, Grundy Road residents, and area farmers.

The church was a fitting location for the event as it was nine years ago – on Sept. 11, 2013 – that members of the congregation petitioned both counties’ Board of Supervisors to approve “the covering of Grundy Road … with a hard surface.”

The newly-paved Grundy Road pictured on Sept. 7 from the south near Zion Lutheran Church, rural Hudson. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

The petition laid out the road’s deficiencies at the time, describing the road’s dry weather dust – hanging over the road “like a dense fog” – as being a danger to visibility. Muddy conditions during wet and snowy weather seasons made the road at times unnavigable, the petition further stated.

But perhaps the key reason the road was finally paved pertains to the heavy traffic on the road from congregants, commuters, residents, and farmers alike, as well as the increase in the size and weight of farm equipment over the years.

“We would haul rock out here in the spring and then the next week the residents would call – or nearby farmers would call – and say, ‘When are you going to place rock on this road?’ It was just getting really expensive to maintain the road,” Black Hawk Co. Engineer Catherine Nicholas said during her remarks. “We believe over the next 50 years that this will pay for itself. This will be sustainable. This will have been a good investment.”

That investment – originally estimated to cost in total about $8 million – was split evenly between Grundy and Black Hawk. The final price tag came in under budget, Nicholas said, at roughly $7.3 million.

Discussion surrounding the paving of the road first began to percolate back in the 1970s, Supervisor Schildroth said, back when his own father was a Grundy County Supervisor.

Grundy Co. Supervisor Mark Schildroth (right) speaks during the Grundy Road ribbon-cutting ceremony held on the front lawn of Zion Lutheran Church on Sept. 7. Grundy Co. Engineer Gary Mauer listens beside him. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

“There was discussion on and off for several years. And then finally – two years ago now – Black Hawk County and Grundy County were able to get together and join our efforts and I think what you see today is a really nice road that we can be proud of,” Schildroth said.

The grading portion of the project was completed by Peterson Contractors Inc. (PCI), while the paving portion was completed by Aspro, Inc. of Waterloo, and several subcontractors.

“Like all projects of this size,” Nicholas said moments before the pink ribbon stretched across the road from Black Hawk County to Grundy County was cut, “they’ve been talked about by locals for many years. After today there will be no more talk about paving Grundy Road. We have a safe, beautiful, sustainable road for many years [to come] now.”

A petition to pave Grundy Road dated Sept. 11, 2013 and submitted to the Black Hawk Co. Board of Supervisors and county engineer by members of Zion Lutheran Church, Hudson, on display during the Grundy Road ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 7, 2022. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Attendees at the Sept. 7 Grundy Road ribbon-cutting ceremony held at Zion Lutheran Church northwest of Hudson pose for a group photograph including (front, center) Grundy Co. Engineer Gary Mauer and Black Hawk County Engineer Catherine Nicholas (safety vest). PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER